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"A fella ain't got a
soul of his own, just one great big soul, the one big soul that
belongs to everybody." ~ Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
posted by Cullen Anderson to Facebook
By Alan Larus
we are in the midst of a great turning and it is an auspicious time to be alive
The revolutionary movement for sustaining
life is unfolding and blossoming
here and now. In fact, it is inevitable and exactly what we are made for. This
is the message from Joanna Macy, long-time activist, Buddhist scholar and
philosopher of general systems theory and deep ecology. Through empathy
and compassion connecting with ourselves and others we are
consciously turning a critical, troubled time in the history of humankind into a
life-enriching and life-sustaining interrelationship with the world. As Joanna
puts it, it is now a time when it really matters what we think and how we act
because our survival depends on it.
have said that we are living in a time of a Great Turning. You
the third turning of the wheel of dharma, a time when we are experiencing a
revolutionary shift from a society based on industrial growth to one based on
life sustainability. What evidence makes you feel that this shift is occurring and
how is this view different from simply having hope?
am so glad that you are starting with that because the concept of
Great Turning has been of enormous help to me and my colleagues around
the world, particularly at a moment when, on the surface of things, there is so
much bad news and many setbacks. Environmental controls are being eroded,
military contracts are being awarded and preemptive war is the order of the
Many great thinkers of
our era have been teachers to me. They see that we
are in the midst of a revolution that is as significant in its magnitude as two
other recent revolutions. One is the agricultural revolution, which took
centuries; and much later came the industrial revolution, which was quicker.
Now, right on the heels of those revolutions, comes this revolution.
John Why is the current revolution inevitable?
is inevitable because the industrial growth society is not
We are already on overshoot, as we say in systems thinking. Or, it is a
runaway system, where we have already exceeded the renewable limits of
the resources and have already exceeded the capacity to absorb the wastes
that we have dumped into air, soil, water and earth. So we have just a little
time left. We cannot continue at this rate.
Then we can look around
and see that this revolution is happening particularly
in certain dimensions. It has been useful to think of them in three dimensions.
The first is in the holding actions to slow the damage, what many people
think of as activism. The second is in the new institutions, such as organic
farming and alternative health care. And finally, the third dimension is the
perceptual shift in consciousness.
This revolution is
happening and we dont know if it will succeed or not. And
that is a very useful thing to confront and recognize right on. There are no
guarantees in life. And we dont know if the systems that sustain life will
unravel, thanks to our assaults upon them, before the life-sustaining society
structures really are set in place. But that is always the case. When you put
seeds in the ground, you dont know if you are going to have a bumper crop.
Or if you go into labour, you dont know if you are going to have a healthy
baby. So we have this enormous privilege in our time of being alive in a
historical moment when what we do how we relate, how we think, how we
move ourselves about has enormous effects. That is a great gift. A sense of
meaning for our lives is right there and is something quite grand.
I just want to tell you
this quote I heard the other day: The essence of an
adventure is not to know the outcome. The essence of a joyous adventure is
not to need to know the outcome. This is the great adventure of our time
and it can transform every part of our life. And in the meanwhile, our hearts
break all over the place, as we see the huge losses that are being incurred. We
cant stop those losses. We cant stop all of them, so our hearts are breaking,
our minds are opening, and our hearts are opening. We are weaving
connections for the future. [...]
can be the view that one must choose between being
doing or between being active in social change or involved in spiritual
growth, or addressing our own suffering versus addressing the suffering of
the world. I think that there is a similar dichotomy present between beliefs in
science versus religion or mind over matter. Do you think there is a possibility
of a third, combined, non-dualistic way of viewing and living in the world?
Well, that is one of the exciting things about being alive right
That old dichotomy has been breached. It is so boring, anyway! (Laughter)
There were years and years where there was debate whether it was more
important to get enlightened first or get psychoanalyzed first or get your head
straight first before you took action, before you climbed in the barricades. Or
vice versa: I must stand on the barricades first in order to earn the right to
focus on myself. I have to take care of these terrible injustices. I cant have
any rest while there are still the homeless on the streets, and then I can sit on
I think these ideas are
tragic and that this kind of polarization has turned a lot
of people from doing either well. The Great Turning helps me to see that the
truth is that you have to do both. And in a way, you have to do both at the
same time. At least not see them as sequential, that you do one first.
This revolution we are in takes all of these norms
and shakes them up and
intermingles them so that you dont know when you take an action whether
you are going to be finding yourself in the midst of great mysterious
awakening when you are just going out to collect signatures for a petition.
The change is so deep and it will affect every part of our lives. It wont be
easy, but it wont be all that hard because a different kind of strength comes
full article: http://www.ascentmagazine.com/articles.aspx?articleID=283&issueID=38
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