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The degradation of our environment is accelerating beyond the point of our being able to repair it. The problems are many and complex—from the destruction of our forests, to the dying off of our fish. Our impure air and water is causing worldwide increases in chronic diseases including severe challenge to our immune systems. Most threatening of all, climate change may raise temperatures and cause extreme weather conditions for thousands of years. Scientists and experts such as Al Gore can show us charts of what is happening, but the facts and figures don’t reach into the depth of our heart and motivate us to change. Joanna Macy, author and deep ecologist says, “We need to love the world in order to save it.” Using our intellect in this area is not enough; we need to feel an emotional connection to the planet. Advertisers know that the best way to stir us is through images and stories, often culled from myths that deeply affect our psyche...
I have fallen in love outward.
“Of course we humans are mightily special....Our opposable thumbs, our ability to balance and ambulate on our hind legs, our capacity for reflection, and our slyness with tools and ever-more-complex technologies entail that we are a pretty unique bunch.
But then again, that hawk soaring overhead is able to fly without any of the contrivances that we depend upon, and the apple tree over there is able to squeeze apples directly out of its limbs, which in itself is pretty damn unique, and a far cry from anything that I can muster with my own body.
Perhaps you could say that the compelling stories we two-leggeds regularly concoct could be called an efflorescence, or even a kind of fruit, like those apples. But still, the way that some whales dive to a depth of six thousand feet, holding their breath for over ninety minutes, seems another kind of astonishment, as is the journey of monarch butterflies. After overwintering in a small cluster of conifers in the Mexican highlands, the monarchs navigate their way north... (Click title for more)
Once people believe that they cannot do anything to change a situation, they tend to react in all sorts of unhelpful ways. They may become dependent on others (i.e., by believing that the government or corporations will fix things, or that technology has all the answers), resigned ("if it happens, it happens"), cynical ("there's no way you can stop people from driving their cars everywhere - convenience is more important to most people than looking after the environment"), or fed up with the topic.
Although environmental threats are real and can be frightening, remaining in a state of heightened distress is not helpful for ourselves or for others. We generally cope better, and are more effective at making changes, when we are calm and rational.
People who are concerned about the environment, and are trying to make a positive difference, need to look after themselves to keep their enthusiasm and motivation up, and to protect themselves from disillusionment or burn out. The following suggestions may help you to ‘stick with it'.
Today there is a resurgence of interest in the sacred feminine. The immense popularity a few years ago of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code spoke not just to our enjoyment of a good thriller but also to the mystery of the divine feminine in Western culture, which is the real thread of the book's chase, from the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa to the search for the grail and the heritage of Mary Magdalene.
We know now how the feminine mysteries were present in Greek culture and myth, as imaged in the story of Persephone, and enacted for more than 2,000 years in the initiations at Eleusis. In the early Christianity women had spiritual equality, and the significance of Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved more than others, being the first to see the risen Christ, points to the esoteric significance of the feminine. We have also learned how the power of the sacred feminine was repressed by the Church fathers, and Mary Magdalene purposely misidentified as a prostitute.
As we awaken from the repressions of the patriarchy we need to reclaim the sacred feminine both for our individual spirituality and for the well being of the planet. Our ecological devastation...(click title for more)
The wisdom of women consists not only in their individual contributions but also in their association with men in the nurture and well-being of life in all its forms: cosmological, social, economic, familial, and personal. This wisdom flourished throughout the Neolithic period of Western civilization. Now, after surviving in a suppressed condition throughout the patriarchal history of modern Europe and America, the wisdom of women is re-asserting itself in all phases of human activity.
“There is now a single issue before us: survival. Not merely physical survival, but survival in a world of fulfillment, survival in a living world, where the violets bloom in the springtime, where the stars shine down in all their mystery, survival in a world of meaning.”
Earth is in distress and is calling to us, sending us signs of the extremity of its imbalance through floods and storms, drought and unprecedented heat. There are now indications that its ecosystem as a whole may be approaching a “tipping point” or “state shift” of irreversible change with unforeseeable consequences.
Some of us are responding to these signs, hearing this calling, individually and as groups, with ideas and actions – trying to bring our collective attention to our unsustainable materialistic lifestyle and the ways it is contributing to ecological devastation, increasing pollution, species depletion. But the momentum of our consumer, fossil-fuel driven civilization seems unstoppable, accelerating the destruction of the very ecosystem that supports us.... (Click title for more)
There is only one core issue for all of psychology. Where is the "me"? Where does the "me" begin? Where does the "me" stop? Where does the "other" begin? For most of its history, psychology took for granted an intentional subject: the biographical "me" that was the agent and sufferer of all "doings". For most of its history, psychology located this "me" within human persons defined by their physical skin and their immediate behaviour. The subject was simply "me in my body and in my relations with other subjects". The familiar term that covered this entire philosophical system was "ego", and what the ego registered were called "experiences".
Over the past three decades, all this has been scrutinized, dismantled and even junked. Postmodernism has deconstructed continuity, self, intention, identity, centrality, gender, individuality. The integrity of memory for establishing biographical continuity has been challenged. The unity of the self has fallen before the onslaught of multiple personalities.... (click title for more)
My first posts on this blog at the beginning of last year related to my concerns about increasing numbers of calls by various groups and individuals around the world for 'new stories'. Don't misunderstand. those calls for new stories sprang from an important place: the notion that the stories which we tell ourselves about our current ways of living need to be replaced with something more authentic, wild and free.
It is hard for us to imagine the time when human language was primarily just a sound in a wider polyphony of earthy expression – the splashing brook, the patterning of bird song. Hard for us to hear human sound without drawing on the resource of visualizing letters if needed. The inside of our heads has changed dramatically in this regard. This apparent sophistication has crafted a speech that can seem to sit uneasily in the panorama of the wild, with its burbles, chirrups and thunder.
Human language can seem like the voice of a guardian or overlord, rather than the confirming murmurs of a being placed absolutely within this textured web... (click title for more)
As a psychologist of religion, I should like to make some observations about the relationship between the human psyche and the other-than-human natural world, in particular as one tradition in psychology sees that relationship. Let me begin by quoting words I take to be both exemplary for the tradition in question and pertinent to our discussion of "nature religion":
Yet there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things. In fact it seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me from the world has become transferred into my own inner world, and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself.
This striking passage appears on the last page of C.G. Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, written at the end of his long life and career in psychology. It was initially pointed out to me for its evocative oddness by James Hillman, Jung's revisionist successor, in connection with a theme Hillman has pursued since at least 1982, when he published an article on it entitled "Anima Mundi : The Return of the Soul to the World."
By this Hillman means the return of psychological subjectivity to the outer, non-human world, including the...
Compassion begets compassion and there's actually a synergistic relationship, not a trade-off, when we show compassion for animals and their homes.
Humans are a force in nature. We're all over the place, big-brained, big-footed, arrogant, invasive, menacing, and marauding mammals. No need to look for mythical Bigfoot: we're here! We leave huge footprints all over the place and have been rather unsuccessful at solving urgent problems. Robert Berry fears we're simply "running out of world." We're also runnng out of wildness and wilderness.
One of my favorite quotes is this from Carl Jung, which addresses the reality of nature and our loss of contact with it. It also identifies a deep and burgeoning issue for humankind:
“Man feels isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree makes a man's life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom and no mountain still harbours a great demon. Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants and animals" (The Earth Has a Soul, Sabini, 2005, p. 79-80)
The disconnect I experience between the ancient, primal knowing carried over from two million years of unity between spirit and matter, the concept that (Click title to continue reading)
NR: You have said we have to overcome our addictions before we can connect to nature. Does our refusal to confront our addictions lead directly to our destruction of Mother Earth?
We are living at a period of history variously called “the shift” and “the great turning.” A time when the spirit of domination, conquest, heroism, and individualism are on the wane, and a new spirit or zeitgeist is emerging—of cooperation, respect for diversity, and recognition of the interconnectedness of all life.
"Crazy" . . . In the presence of environmental horrors, the word leaps to mind. Depleting the ozone is "crazy," killing off the rhinos is "crazy," destroying rain forests is "crazy." Our gut feeling is immediate, the judgment made with vehemence. "Crazy" is a word freighted with strong emotion.
In 1960 I began my study of chimpanzees on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in what is now Tanzania. At that time chimpanzee habitat stretched for miles, fringing the lake from Burundi to Zambia in the south. Today, the scene is very different: cultivated land crowds up to the boundaries of the park, the trees have gone, peasants are trying to grow crops on the steep rocky hillsides, causing terrible erosion, the soil is losing its fertility, the forest animals have gone, and the human population is struggling to survive.
In The Great Work Thomas Berry invites a deep reflection on our current ecological and cultural predicament. The move through this era of enormous cultural transition, from a period of human devastation of the Earth to—potentially—a period of benign presence, is the ‘great work’ that we must undertake if we are to fulfil the historical exigencies of our time.
Thomas Berry, cultural historian, is a remarkable and influential thinker on the complexities of this era and the requirements of a viable future. Berry, a Catholic priest, trained in the classical traditions of theology, immersed himself in a comprehensive investigation of the phenomenon of religion, and in particular Eastern religions. He taught Eastern religions at several U.S. universities prior to founding the PhD program in The Histories of Religions at Fordham, from 1966-1979. Berry has written several books on Eastern Religions, such as Buddhism and The Religions of India,1 and during the past few decades has addressed his work to the magnitude of the crisis facing Western civilization.
To situate the essays within The Great Work as well as the responses to the book, it may be beneficial to know some of the key influences that have shaped Berry’s perspectives. Over the course of a lifetime, Berry has developed a deep appreciation for the intense and specific human experiences that give rise to distinct religious traditions and expressions. He could see that particular and penetrating (Click title to read the full article)
The biophilia hypothesis asserts the existence of a fundamental, genetically based, human need and propensity to afﬁliate with life and life like processes. Consider, for example, that recent studies have shown that even minimal connection with nature—such as looking at it through a window—increases productivity and health in the workplace, promotes healing of patients in hospitals, and reduces the frequency of sickness in prisons.
Other studies have begun to show that when given the option, humans choose landscapes such as prominences near water from which parkland can be viewed that ﬁt patterns laid down deep in human history on the savannas of East Africa. Wilson (1992) points out that people crowd national parks to experience natural landscapes, and ‘‘travel long distances to stroll along the seashore, for reasons they can’t put into words’’.
According to Wilson (1984), the biophilic instinct emerges, often unconsciously, in our cognition, emotions, art, and ethics, and unfolds ‘‘in the predictable fantasies and responses of individuals from early childhood onward. It cascades into repetitive patterns of culture across most or all societies’... (click title to read more)
What happened to our innocent "wide open" connection with the natural world -- that unedited desire to plunge into the falls? Many people are beginning to ask this question, and the answers, that some are arriving at, point to an exciting new understanding of psychological healing. The psychological pain experienced by many may be due to a perceived, and profoundly felt, alienation from the natural world. If so, healing may come about from a reunion of psyche and nature.
In 1992 two books came out that began to unsettle the community of modern psychotherapy practitioners and their clients: James Hillman and Michael Ventura's We've Had 100 Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse and Theodore Roszak's The Voice of the Earth. Both of these books called into question the modern practice of psychotherapy in the face of the continued decline of the natural world. Both authors assert that the suffering an individual experiences is linked to more than their personal story, it is connected to the suffering of the earth and the nurturing systems that sustain us. This extends the realm of human experience to include the world around us and brings the possibilities for... (click title for more)
Some would argue our contemporary consumer-based, productivity-oriented culture contributes to a collective loss of memory—done of being connected to something larger than our everyday selves. As a society, we have become dislocated in time and disconnected from place, leaving us rootless, transient, and opting for sensationalism instead of spirituality; superficiality instead of soul.
So much of this malady is due to our disconnect from nature, our bodies, and earth itself. We are no longer grounded in something real that gives us context to understand how our lives play out in a fabric of being, a pattern in living nature with a self-organizing intelligence of its own.
As Jung put it,
“Man feels isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of...(click title for more)
In a recent blogpost, I wrote some introductory thoughts about what I’m calling “Culture Collapse Disorder,” an eco-psycho-pathological disorder in which human-made stressors stemming from culture and development (and their correlating underlying connected psychological issues) are causing a drastic systemic imbalance, manifest by a critical rise in adverse conditions for earth and its inhabitants.
In short, the way of life most of us are living in modern consumer culture is simply not sustainable and the symptoms and resulting suffering are mounting. These days, while many of us choose to distract ourselves through compulsive consumption of goods, services, technology, peak experiences, entertainment, celebrity and even psychotherapy, the unconscious knowledge that we are in a time of transition is beginning to bleed through into our everyday understanding.
Culture Collapse Disorder is an idea based on a related aberration that manifested in the natural world beginning in late 2006: Colony Collapse Disorder the mass collapse of honeybee colonies in which...
Over the last couple of days we have been discussing images of the self. I would like to continue exploring this idea. Carl Jung says that Khidr may be an image of the self. Khidr is the 'green one."
He is the angel to the mystics. Here is more on Khidr from Carl Jung:
“Khidr may well be a symbol of the self. His qualities signalize him as such: he is said to have been born in a cave, ie., in darkness. He is the “Long-lived One,” who continually renews himself, like Elijah. Like Osiris, he is dismembered at the end of time, by Antichrist, but is able to restore himself to life. He is analogous to the... Click title for more)
Via Maxwell Purrington