January 26, 2016 Leave a comment
Sustainability may not be widely discussed in the network news channels, as ‘action’ news stories often focus on human conflicts, disasters and economic problems of immediacy, rather than delving into long-term repercussions or solutions. Often one is not presented with situations from the standpoint of how you, the viewer, can potentially get involved and help to transform the situation.
In fact we have often received information, from the top-down, through a hierarchy of stations delivered by a few news networks, owned by a few individuals. However, even the new story, implies a new way of gleaning information; through social networks. This implies horizontal sharing of information which a person can actively investigate on their own, delving into sources of information that offer alternative views or by talking with one another, sharing ideas or even taking a walk in the woods to contemplate. So rather than being spoon-fed bits of information, it’s a process of actively investigating and sharing. In other words, thinking, for oneself.
You really Are What you Think.
The “New Story of the People” is narrated breathfully by Charles Eisenstein; his story of ‘a more beautiful world’.
With respect to the ‘Sustainable Human’, Eisenstein talks about how in the last hundred years science has been focused on dissecting and reducing things to their elemental parts in the quest to understand our universe and the matter which makes up our world. Yet during the scientific process, the influence of the subjective viewer has come to be understood as influencing the object of study. In the past, this would have been discounted as something that can not be empirically proven. As the Western World expands beyond its scientific rationalism and objectification of the world in the ‘Industrial Age’ into a new view of the web of connections through the discoveries during the ‘Information Age’, our definitions are changing. And these spill over from the scientific view of the universe, into parallel pursuits in other arenas, such as recognizing that there is really something to the wisdom traditions of Eastern spirituality and mysticism. A perspective that has been compatible to various indigenous people all over the planet for millennium.
Eisenstein metions that “A new paradigm has begun to evolve along with this scientific view that emerged out of physics; a paradigm which sees the universe not as discreet parts with everything distinctly separate, but as interconnected.”
When I was younger, my interest in science as well as consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, drew me to read the book “The Tao of Physics ” written by the physicist Fritjof Capra.
Fritjof Capra, an Austrian-born American physicist, described in this book what the new sciences were disclosing, a completely new way of looking at the universe, particularly looking at the world from the scientist’s perspective of probing the smallest building blocks.
Capra went on to write together with biochemist Pier Luigi Luisi “The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision”. The authors mention that the book primarily deals with the question, “What is Life?”. Their years of research reveal that from bacteria, to cells, to organs, to living organisms from plants and insects to birds and mammals involve networks.
At the core of this paradigm shift, is a perception shift from ‘separateness’ to ‘interconnectedness’.
Rather than looking at isolated events or bodies within its skin or shell, the most obvious characteristic of life are the relationships among networks with other bacteria, cells and creatures as well as relationships between different species, organs and colonies of beings. Life of all kinds, is not a distinct entity which can merely be quantitatively measured and classified into a particular domain, but the very essence of life is a qualitative interconnection between others of its kind and the whole ecological system of relationships between different species.
The common thread of all life is that it is the network. the network is a pattern consistent through all of life, the network is a series of relationships. the science that describes this new perspective is called the ‘Systemic View’. Nature sustains itself in the sense that every organism, from a cell, to an organ, to a body, to the social nature of a species, to the planet itself is an autopoietic system that regenerates itself. This works because it is in a set of relationships within a network system.
Here is an “essay excerpted from The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision”, presented on the (CEL) website Center for Ecoliteracy, which Capra co-founded.
Capra and Luisi argue “that many of the most important problems we face today – from financial instability to climate change and ecological degradation – reflect our collective inability to appreciate just how the world operates as a holistic, networked system in which every part depends on every other. This is something that can be approached and healed, from the systemic view. We need to live in a way that allows the planet itself to regenerate itself naturally. This leads us to consciousness of ecological sustainability and the intent to build and live in sustainable communities.
You are not distinct from Nature, You Are Nature
This New Story is all about sustainability: the capacity for human individuals and societies to live in a way that reduces the amount of the earth’s resources that they use, to a level that is compatible with the earth’s ability to regenerate itself and maintain a healthy balance.
This recognition of life as a network of relationships that are holistically healthy and regenerative only insofar as each of the interconnected parts are, as articulated in the Systemic View of life, is beginning to emerge in all different aspects of human relationships, as something to aspire to.
• in the individual – recognizing that we are as healthy and strong and happy only insofar as other members of the human community are also compatibly accessing education and opportunities as well as healthy environments
• in the cohesion of the human social community – in which cooperation rather than competition, diversity in participation and sharing between disciplines and groups is a healthy circulatory system
• in the realm of health – towards new ways of gardening and farming as well as the recognition of health sustaining nutrients inherent in foods and spices
• in emotional well-being – bringing the mind and the body into an interactive balance of movement and stillness; movement for healthy circulation, stillness to allow oneself to connect to that dimension which is beyond our immediate focus
• in spiritual continuity – recognizing that diversity is the spice of life; homogeneity breeds incestuous, narrow-mindedness and stagnation
• in economic behavior – towards openness & transparency, collaboration, horizontal sharing of ownership and the subsequent democratization of wealth
• in political systems – the more open and transparent the governing representatives, the more trust and mutual consensus for what is relevant and important in the fabric of existence; which includes humans, a healthy environment and relationship with all species
Diversity is healthy, whereas homogeneity breeds incestuous narrow-mindedness.
The New Story has evolved as our stories about ourselves, and the place of the human being in the world evolves.
You really Are what you Believe.
The premise of the organization “Ecological Thinking for Business Transformation” is that our perception of reality and our worldview has been outdated. “We are witnessing a change in business paradigm from one suited for the industrial era to one suited for the interconnected era.”
In 1995, the physicist Fritjof Capra together with the philanthropist Peter Buckley and think tank director Zenobia Barlow, founded the Center for Ecoliteracy with the intent of sharing the awareness of the systemic view with students, through a series of educational programs that support ecological principles and systems thinking to curricula and projects in habitat restoration, school gardens and cooking classes, partnerships between schools and farms and curricular innovation among K12 schools. Among other things, the center helps to develop projects in habitat restoration, school gardens and cooking classes and partnerships between schools and farms, with the awareness that health begins with a healthy diet.
You really Are what you Eat.
Frijof Capra says that he has studied agroecology or regenerative agriculture.
Agroecology or agroforestry combines; forestry, agriculture and livestock. It is beyond sustainable, it is actually regenerative.
Jeremy Wickremer’s mentions in his article for The Ecologist Connecting the Dots: the Big Permaculture Picture ”Just like you need a holistic vision for a healthy mind and body, the same applies for a healthy planet. One way of living that seeks to do this is permaculture. To put it simply, permaculture is agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. It is a design system that mimics nature, where everything in the design supports everything else.”
In terms of sustainable and regenerative agriculture, Agroforestry is land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. It’s another example of replenishing the environment with nutrients and water, without needing chemicals or pesticides. This encourages growth in biodiversity and is healthier for farmers.
Besides the growth of food and the reflection of these sustainable practices on all of the other creatures with whom we share our planet, there are plenty of business solutions that are as well following this New Story, emulating what already clearly works in nature. One group is “Ecological Thinking for Business Transformation” also speak of the “out-dated worldview, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with the volatile and globally interconnected business world.”
Having attended the “People and Planet First” conference in September of 2015 presented by the (IPS) Institute for Policies Studies in Baltimore, Maryland, the panelists also talked of a “New Story“. Among the speakers were Annie Leonard “The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard” and historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz who mentioned that though this new stream of activity towards cooperative business and horizontally-shared ownership is happening in discrete communities all over the United States, it isn’t being consciously driven, yet.
Eisenstein, in his Sustainable Man video about The New Story, talks of stepping out of this paradigm of control and allowing oneself to be of service to this larger body of which we all are a part. And that as we direct our questions and intent to ask what we can do to serve having a healthier body, mind, well-being, community and world, that indeed, the answers and direction will arise in response to the intention.
Besides the rational means of digesting information, there is the whole realm of the invisible. I’ll call it the domain of the heart. Herein lies the capacity of a person to intuit something and feel whether the information is in alignment with the words. A person can sense whether they feel good around a person, or uneasy. A person can have an impression beyond the rational, about whether the words of another person seem to convey the same as their gestures, or whether something is not quite in synch. One can sense whether something they read or see feels accurate and sound, or whether there is something amiss. Many animals can sense with a heightened capacity – with sense organs much more highly tuned to frequencies beyond those of human beings – to see, hear, detect movements and subtle alternations in the environment.
I mention the heart literally and figuratively as a metaphor. The heart is the central organ in the body – lets just talk about human beings – that is consistently circulating oxygen, nutrients and carrying away wastes throughout the body. The heart pumping station, is also by its nature generating an electromagnetic field which is larger than that produced by the brain. The heart also has a complex system of neurons, cells that are consistently transmitting information to the rest of the body. When the heart is in synch in the individual with feelings of joy and love, this invisible field expands. When an individual is more channeled into negative emotions of fear and anger, this field constricts.
Every Small Gesture Has Significance
The perception of the heart has everything to do with the health of all of the other organs of our body, of individual health in general, of the health of societies, permeating into healthy relationships with other organisms and with the health of the earth, which is an organism just as we are.
The heart is also metaphorically an organ of connection with others. Besides wonder, exuberance, joy and gratitude that a person can feel within him or herself, the words love, compassion and empathy typically imply a connection with another.
And as we begin to take tiny actions that follow the logic of the heart – which knows that each act is significant – the logic of the mind of the older world begins to be replaced. This power of repetition which can physically build muscles, is what occurs mentally, neurologically. Each time you think differently, you are rewiring your brain. This concept called Neuroplasticity has to do with the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This rewiring allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.
My introduction into the wisdom of the heart probably began through readings of Deepak Chopra. A physician and author, meditation guide and founder of the Chopra Center; who introduced this awareness that has been understood for Millenia in various Eastern spiritual traditions, of the effectiveness of meditation and this connection to the vast unknown dimension of energy. Chopra has teamed more recently with Oprah Winfrey to bring this domain of the spirit, of tapping into the hidden world of energy through stillness and meditation.
I then was introduced to the practice of ‘Heart Rhythm meditation’ which purports a harmonious and healing relationship within oneself and the universe beyond, through simply aligning the rhythm of one’s breathing to the rhythm of one’s heart beat. It is a practice introduced to the West by a Sufi Hazrat inayat Khan who descended from Pashtuns, an ethnic group originally from Afghanistan and Pakistan. This meditation practice was brought to me by a certified AMA physician who understands the multidimensional healing that this practice provides – from reducing stress, to lowering blood pressure, creating a more harmonious heart rate and allowing oneself to access in this stillness, the domain of energy that stretches way beyond the physical heart and body.
It was in this meditative state that I posed questions regarding what I can do of service, which sent me through a leap of faith to Paris during the COP21 Climate talks to the Place to B, an integration of lectures, workshops, panel discussions and barrage of information sharing, attended by 600 people from 40 countries. This sharing of information about climate change and sustainable alternatives took place simultaneously with the COP21 Climate Talks. The Place to B: Place to Brief was conceived of and founded by the journalist and author Anne-Sophie Novel and the director of production Nicolas Bienvenue. They were surrounded by a team of people who coordinated the continuous flurry of learning events and entertainment, with a tremendous group of visiting presenters, entrepreneurs and activists who each delivered their scintillating information and testimonies of successes and inspirational savvy from all corners of the world. 600 people representing 40 countries arrived in Paris to participate in what the Place to B/Place to Brief offered; alternative media, a collective with presentations, speakers and workshops, panel discussions and music and yoga and meditation workshops all happening at one central location throughout the two week duration of the Climate Talks.
One of the workshops I attended was the Transformational Media Summit : Storytelling and Media for a Better World. The New Story summit was hosted by Jeremy Wickremer, co-founder of Transformational Media Initiative In his presentation, Jeremy Wickremer spoke of the fact that each of us are potentially change-agents, with the capacity to do actions that can have a big impact on the environment – our own lives, our communities and the larger environment. And that what is more potent than merely drawing up solutions from a logical methodology, is to start with the right questions, which prompts creativity in itself. Specifically, he mentioned that your intention – within the guise of a question – will often be answered. He more recently wrote in an article “Our Invisible World” about the fact that many things which steer human behavior, emotions, health, psychological and spiritual well-being have to do with the energy that lies beneath the actions. And that the common illnesses which affect modern man and the crisis of violence that threat human cultures, have to do with a disconnect. This disconnect is within our own selves, our patterns and habits of how we live our lives. There is a disconnect within ourselves, among one another and that humans have with other creatures and nature; which is presently resulting in the greatest magnitude of habitat destruction, dissemination of species and global ecological balances and health.
The biggest disharmony of all is perhaps our relationship with the natural world.
Daniel Goleman is the psychologist, science journalist and author of “Emotional Intelligence”. He posits that non-cognitive skills can matter as much as a person’s I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) for workplace success in “Working with Emotional Intelligence”. In 2007, Goleman wrote about “Social Intelligence” and in 2009, “Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything”
So called ‘primitive people’, without having had the use of technological tools that more ‘advanced’ civilizations have had at their disposal and for their distraction, have had thousands of years of penetration into the invisible world that the modern Western world has only been starting to grasp is in the last 50 years. And with the spiritual and emotional well-being deficit that modern man has come to feel, this dis-ease of the human spirit, disconnect with oneself, growing obesity, growing psychological disorders and reliance on quick-fixes such as pharmaceuticals, and growing disharmony and feelings of isolation, have reached towards and cherished many ancient traditions that have evolved in the Eastern World to ease their dis-ease and treat their disharmony with something more than a quick fix of treating the symptoms instead of the disorder. They have reached towards practices of meditation, yoga, t’ai chi and walking into nature and silence, with a visceral understanding that these practices have short and long term benefits.
Listening to Intuition is the Wisdom of the Heart.
There is so much we can do, and we do have the ability to consciously act towards sustainability.
Many little voices make a tremendous noise, and many little gestures, create big changes.