Theme for January 2015 ~ Crossroads & Compass: The Path Behind & Ahead
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
We’ll explore Arnina Kashtan‘s compass (see beneath), a process of self-inquiry, both reviewing the path behind (2014) as well as the one ahead (2015).
The Compass: Awakening to the Journey from You to Yourself
With Arnina Kashtan
The 3 Intentions = Connect. Choose. Affect (or Influence).
The 4 Keys = L.O.V.E. (in Hebrew = A.H.V.A.) = Courage. Listening. Choice. Transformation.
The 7 Gates = (not always linear) 1) Observe 2) Ask 3) Understand 4) Feel 5) Do 6) Accept 7) Love
- Is there an area in my life on which I’d like to focus during this journey? (Relationship with myself, with my intimate partner, with my parents, my children, friends, in social circumstances, at work, other).
- How do I feel in relation to the area I’ve chosen? (Challenges, difficulties, feelings, thoughts)?
- Out of the following words, which is the one I would most like to experience in my life – full Self Expression (Presence) / Inner Peace / Joy / Choice / Other?
- What does is mean for me to live out in this way of being? Where and how do I experience it in my life?
- What prevents me from living this way of being as I would have liked?
- What seems like THE thing, which if it changed, I would experience this way of being more?
- What have I done till today to change this situation? What has worked? What has helped me?
- What has NOT worked? And why? What did I tell myself when it didn’t?
- Which of these 3 keys do I need in order to create the transformation which I yearn to in my life = Courage / Listening / Choice?
- Other Thoughts…?
Don’t just do what you should be doing. Reflect on the person you can be.
The inspiration for this crossroads blog post, and its idea of looking both through the rear view mirror, as well as the windshield ahead, was seeded in part when during the course of April, May, June, July of 2014 — inspired by both Joanna Macy’s spiral and the coincidence of current newsworthy events regarding climate change (i.e. NYT: West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse has Begun) — we mustered the will to peek further ahead into the future planetary trajectory than we might have otherwise (or perhaps is routinely customary to do, on such calls as these), especially in terms of the role that global warming will now, sadly and inevitably play, the havoc it will unavoidably wreak with our planet in the decades, scores, and centuries to come. And yet also to ponder whether we, as a species, might yet muster the will to mitigate even worse catastrophe.
BILL McKIBBEN: As we meet here today, the world is almost done with what will be the hottest calendar year in all the years that we have measured temperatures. 2014 saw the warmest temperatures, by far, ever recorded in the northern Pacific. It was also the year when we learned, tragically, that the melt of the West Antarctic ice sheet is now irreversible…Those companies—Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Gazprom, China Coal, BP, all the rest—have in their combined reserves five times more carbon than the world’s scientists say we can safely burn. And yet those companies have told their shareholders and their banks that they will dig up that coal and oil and gas, and burn it. If they carry out those business plans, then there is no mystery about how this story ends: The planet will simply break. And so we must fight—peacefully, but firmly….There’s no ducking that fight. If you invest in fossil fuel companies, you profit from the destruction of the Earth. That’s the definition of “dirty money.” Those who invest in fossil fuel companies are making a wager that the world will do nothing to combat climate change. That’s an immoral wager. And it’s an unwise wager, as well, because civil society really is rising up….We look with great inspiration to the countries like Germany that are demonstrating daily that it is entirely possible to turn to renewable energy for the power that we need on this planet. Global warming is a test for all of us, the test in our time on Earth. It’s a test in a sense of whether the big brain was a good adaptation after all. Clearly, that brain can get us in a good deal of trouble, but maybe, just maybe, it is attached to a big enough heart to get us out of some of that trouble. I cannot promise you that we will win this struggle. We have waited a very long time to get started, and the science is quite dark. But I can promise you that in every corner of the world we will fight and fight hard. Thank you so much for helping spread word of that struggle with this great honor.
Salon: “Unburnable”: To avoid catastrophic climate change, most of the world’s fossil fuels must remain underground
By Lindsay Abrams The world must abandon most of its coal reserves, half of its gas and a third of its oil if we’re to have any hope of preventing catastrophic climate change, a major new study finds. The analysis, published in the journal Nature, breaks down just how “unburnable” the world’s remaining fossil fuels are in terms of keeping warming below the agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). And the implications, as many are pointing out, are profound. The Middle East would have to walk away from 260 thousand million barrels of oil. The U.S., Russia and China would collectively turn their backs on coal. The fossil fuel industry would have to face huge parts of their reserves becoming absolutely worthless — and investors might reconsider investing in those companies… (continues: http://www.salon.com/2015/01/07/unburnable)
Excerpt: “Observed impacts of climate change are widespread and consequential,” the scientists of the IPCC write in the report.
The new report show that “today’s choices are going to significantly affect the risk that climate change will pose for the rest of the century,” says Kelly Levin, a scientist who studies the impacts of climate change at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.
“Crossing a Threshold”?
The new IPCC report warns that the world is close to missing a chance to limit the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a goal that world leaders had previously agreed was an important target. Beyond that point, “impacts will begin to be unacceptably severe,” the authors wrote.
“There is potential for crossing a threshold that leads to large system changes, and that’s a very unknown world that has severe consequences,” Levin says.
Scientists practice a form of self-denial, denying themselves the right to believe anything that has not passed a very high bar.
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, a new study due to be published next year shows that the population of the world’s tallest land animals has declined by 40 percent over the past 15 years—from 140,000 down to 80,000. As they do with most everything, giraffes have been unobtrusive—even in the way they’ve lost ground… (continues)
|By Angella Gibbons|
- Theme for July 2014 ~ Going Forth
- Theme for June 2014 ~ Seeing with New Eyes
- Theme for May 2014 ~ Honoring Our Pain
- Theme for April 2014 ~ Coming from Gratitude
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Extreme land temperatures were accompanied by an unusually warm ocean surface virtually everywhere except around Antarctica, scientists reported.
|By Dori Midnight|
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference presenting the report.
New U.N. Report: Climate Change Risks Destabilizing Human Society
In a new U.N. report released on Monday morning (Japan time) scientists come to a stark conclusion: Unless the world changes course immediately and dramatically, the fundamental systems that support human civilization are at risk… (continues: http://www.slate.com)
The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.
The End of History?
The short, strange era of human civilization would appear to be drawing to a close.
Near year’s end 2014, I’ve been drawn towards pondering the historic lives of those who walked this earth centuries ago (as with this evocative musical accompaniment, hat tip to Paul Krugman’s blog and his most recent Friday Night Music post):
Krugman: “As I understand it, this is a (seriously) informed guess at what ancient Sumerian and Babylonian music sounded like. And it’s quite haunting”:
By Doulas Main
What really lasts in this world? What dies, what can be revived? Are humans basically the same now as in ancient times?
I was left pondering these questions after listening to singer and composer Stef Conner’s album The Flood. It’s probably the first ever to be sung in ancient Sumerian and Babylonian, and it’s hauntingly beautiful:
Continues at Newsweek.com: http://www.newsweek.com/what-did-ancient-mesopotamian-hits-sound-something
The opening minutes of the video clip beneath describe how we have, once before, lost our way as a civilization (past as prologue?)…
“Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three the only quite trustworthy one is the last.” ~ John Ruskin, St. Mark’s Rest: The History of Venice
Some days past I have found a curious confirmation of the fact that what is truly native can and often does dispense with local color; I found this confirmation in Gibbon‘s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon observes that in the Arabian book par excellence, in the Koran, there are no camels; I believe if there were any doubt as to the authenticity of the Koran, this absence of camels would be sufficient to prove it is an Arabian work. It was written by Mohammed, and Mohammed, as an Arab, had no reason to know that camels were especially Arabian; for him they were part of reality, he had no reason to emphasize them; on the other hand, the first thing a falsifier, a tourist, an Arab nationalist would do is have a surfeit of camels, caravans of camels, on every page; but Mohammed, as an Arab, was unconcerned: he knew he could be an Arab without camels. I think we Argentines can emulate Mohammed, can believe in the possibility of being Argentine without abounding in local color.
- “The Argentine Writer and Tradition”, Fervor of Buenos Aires (1923)
In thinking of the tendril roots of civilizations, such as those of Republics — whether the imaginary one envisioned by Plato or an earlier evolution embodied by the Roman Republic prototype, or us/U.S. now — with all of our flaws, still Republicanism in the United States yet exists, but could we be partaking of bread and circuses while Rome burns, a self-immolation without cessation (this time around)?
By McKENZIE FUNK
Three years ago, Shell spent millions to send a colossal oil rig to drill in the remote seas of the Arctic. But the Arctic had other plans.
If nations want even a 50 percent chance of avoiding dangerous global warming, they’ll need to keep more than 80 percent of current coal reserves in the ground. And in the United States, more than 90 percent of coal reserves would need to stay buried, according to a new study from University College London. The study is the latest effort by researchers to put numbers on just how much coal, oil, and gas humanity can safely burn without committing the planet to temperature increases above the 3.6 degree Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) goal agreed on by international negotiators. Previously, scientists have estimated that the amount of current fossil fuel reserves exceed what we can burn by about a factor of three. In this new paper, published Wednesday by the journal Nature, researchers tighten the focus of this global carbon budget by breaking the global numbers into regional ones. The new work combines existing carbon budget estimates with the economics of the energy sector — where, and under what conditions, is it least expensive to produce fossil fuels? The results lay bare the climate dilemma: The estimates may be entirely reasonable, but the implications are wholly impracticable under current political and economic conditions. In the Middle East, producers would have to forego 38 percent of their oil and 61 percent of their gas. China and India would close off 66 percent of their coal. Former Soviet states would keep 94 percent of their coal underground… (Continues: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-07/-more-than-90-percent-of-u-s-coal-should-stay-underground-climate-study.html)
Transcript: Pope Francis is set to make history by issuing the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change, which will urge 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide to take action. The document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests who will distribute it to their parishioners. Given the sheer number of people who identify as Catholics worldwide, the pope’s clarion call to tackle climate change could reach far more people than even the largest environmental groups. “The document will take a position in favor of the scientific consensus that climate change is real … and link the deforestation and destruction of the natural environment to the particular economic model of which Pope Francis has been a critic,” says our guest, Austen Ivereigh, author of a new biography called “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.” The pope also plans to address the United Nations General Assembly and convene a summit of the world’s main religions in hopes of bolstering next year’s crucial U.N. climate meeting in Paris… (continues: http://www.democracynow.org)
“According to tradition, the wise men were sages, watchers of the constellations, observers of the heavens in a cultural and religious context which saw the stars as having significance and power over human affairs,” the Pope told the congregation. “The wise men represent men and woman who seek God in the world’s religions and philosophies: an unending quest.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying all would find “the courage to be liberated from our illusions, our presumptions, our ‘lights,’ and to seek this courage in the humility of faith and in this way to encounter the Light, like the holy wise men.”
(The full text of Pope Francis’ Epiphany mass can be found here,)
FYI: Nature.com: International Weekly Journal of Science – Article: The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C by Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins
Pope Francis is using his Philippines visit to kick off a yearlong push for global action on global warming.
Excerpt: Pope Francis also spoke of those people who were “kidnapped and held captive by terrorist groups, subjected to their purposes as combatants, or, above all in the case of young girls and women, to be used as sex slaves.” “Many of these disappear, while others are sold several times over, tortured, mutilated or killed,” he said. According to the Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2014, an estimated 35.8 million men, women and children are trapped in modern slavery.
My memory carries me back to a certain evening some sixty years ago, to my father’s library in Buenos Aires. I see him; I see the gaslight; I could place my hand on the shelves. I know exactly where to find Burton’s Arbian Nights and Prescott’s Conquest of Peru, though the library exists no longer. I go back to that already ancient South American evening, and I see my father. I am seeing him at this moment; and I hear his voice saying words that I understood not, but yet I felt. Those words came from Keats, from his “Ode to Nightingale.” I have reread them ever so many times, as you have, but I would live to go over them once more. I think this might please my father’s ghost, if he is around. The lines that I remember are those that you are recalling at this moment:
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn
I thought I knew all about words, all about language (when one is a child, one feels that one knows many thngs), but those words came as a revelation to me. Of course, I did not understand them. How could I understand those lines about birds’ — about animals’ — being somehow eternal, timeless, because they live in the present? We are mortal because we live in the past and in the future — because we remember a time when we did not exist, and foresee a time when we shall be dead. Those verses came to me through their music. I had thought of language as being a way of saying things, of uttering complaints, of saying that one was glad, or sad, and so on. Yet when I heard those lines (and I have been hearing them, in a sense, ever since), I knew that language could be a music and a passion. And thus poetry was revealed to me. I have toyed with an idea — the idea that although a man’s life is compounded of thousands and thousands of moments and days, those many instants and those many days may be reduced to a single one: the moment when a man knows who he is, when he sees himself face to face. I suppose that when Judas kissed Jesus (if indeed he did so), he felt at that moment that he was a traitor, that to be a traitor was his destiny, and that he was being loyal to that evil destiny. We all remember The Red Badge of Courage, the story of a man who does not know whether he is a coward or a brave man. Then the moment comes and he knows who he is. When I heard those lines of Keats’s, I suddenly felt that that was a great experience. I have been feeling it ever since. And perhaps from that moment (I suppose I may exaggerate for the purpose of a lecture) I thought of myself as ‘literary’. That is to say, many things have happened to me, as to all men. I have found joy in many things — in swimming, in writing, in looking at a sunrise or a sunset, in being in love, and so on. But somehow the central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.
- The Riddle of Poetry.mp3
- The Metaphor (part 1)
- ‘The Metaphor’ (part 2)
- The Telling of the Tale
- Word-Music, and Translation
- Thought and Poetry (Part 1)
- Thought and Poetry (part 2).
- A Poet’s Creed
Jorge Luis Borges (fuller context of comments above):
I turn to the most promising example: the bird. The habit of flocking; smallness; similarity of traits; their ancient connection with the two twilights, the beginnings of days, and the endings; the fact of being more often heard than seen — all of this moves us to acknowledge the primacy of the species and the almost perfect nullity of individuals. Keats, entirely a stranger to error, could believe that the nightingale enchanting him was the same one Ruth heard amid the alien corn of Bethlehem in Judah; Stevenson posits a single bird that consumes the centuries: “the nightingale that devours time.” Schopenhauer — impassioned, lucid Schopenhauer — provides a reason: the pure corporeal immediacy in which animals live, oblivious to death and memory. He then adds, not without a smile: Whoever hears me assert that the grey cat playing just now in the yard is the same one that did jumps and tricks there five hundred years ago will think whatever he likes of me, but it is a stranger form of madness to imagine that the present-day cat is fundamentally an entirely different one.
- “A History of Eternity” in Selected Non-Fictions Vol. 1, (1999), edited by Eliot Weinberger
Ode to a Nightingale
By John Keats
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thy happiness, – That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees, In some melodious plot Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country-green, Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth. O for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim And purple-stained mouth; That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim. Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs; Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Or new Love pine at them beyond tomorrow. Away! away! for I will fly to thee, Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: Already with thee! tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, Clustered around by all her starry Fays; But here there is no light Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves; And mid-May’s eldest child The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. Darkling I listen; and for many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death, Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain – To thy high requiem become a sod. Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn; The same that oft-times hath Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music: – do I wake or sleep?
Borges and I (translated from the Spanish) by Jorge Luis Borges:
It’s to that other one, to Borges, that things happen. I walk through Buenos Aires and I pause, one could say mechanically, to gaze at a vestibule’s arch and its inner door; of Borges I receive news in the mail and I see his name in a list of professors or in some biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typefaces, etymologies, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; the other shares these preferences, but in a vain kind of way that turns them into an actor’s attributes. It would be an exaggeration to claim that our relationship is hostile; I live, I let myself live so that Borges may write his literature, and this literature justifies me. It poses no great difficulty for me to admit that he has put together some decent passages, yet these passages cannot save me, perhaps because whatsoever is good does not belong to anyone, not even to the other, but to language and tradition. In any case, I am destined to lose all that I am, definitively, and only fleeting moments of myself will be able to live on in the other. Little by little, I continue ceding to him everything, even though I am aware of his perverse tendency to falsify and magnify. Spinoza understood that all things strive to persevere being; the stone wishes to be eternally a stone and the tiger a tiger. I will endure in Borges, not in myself (if it is that I am someone), but I recognise myself less in his books than in those of many others, or in the well-worn strum of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him by moving on from the mythologies of the slums to games with time and infinity, but those games are now Borges’ and I will have to conceive of other things. Thus my life is a running away and I lose everything and everything is turned over to oblivion, or to the other. I do not know which of the two is writing this piece.
The brutal terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday has badly shaken France. But the French have reacted with a fierce determination to defend their freedoms. President François Hollande, speaking from outside the magazine’s office a couple of hours after the murder of 12 people, was crystal clear:
This was an assault, he said, on “the expression of freedom” that is the “spirit of the republic.”
“On behalf of all Americans, I extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity to the people of France following the terrible terrorist attack in Paris,” the president wrote. “As allies across the centuries, we stand united with our French brothers to ensure that justice is done and our way of life is defended. We go forward together knowing that terror is no match for freedom and ideals we stand for — ideals that light the world.” President Obama ended the message: “Vive la France!”