The Kernel: We often view ourselves as coming into this world, rather than coming out of it. This Setup problem leads to a disembodied experience with the outer world. This cut-off experience leads to objectifying the planet without regard to it. Adding to this setup problem is a Setting problem from over-exercising our biochemical musculature in the extraction of calories and energy. This over-exercising then sets up conditions for Exceptionalism that has the human species as exceptional to the systems we have come to depend on. The antidote to this imbalance often lies in the intelligence of our innate and inner operations. Unfortunately, we often turn to the external for solutions, cutting us off further from our indigenous path. However, we often have to restore our inner balance as a deep-change-prerequisite to restoring planetary balance.
Driving As a Learned Capacity For Cooperation
It’s amazing. The rules of driving seem to be one of those things we largely can agree on. Even when there is an accident, we seem to forget the much larger picture. We forget every car on the road is an opportunity for an accident to happen. But yet, the vast majority of cars on the road are not involved in accidents.
How is it we can commonly agree on the rules of driving? How is it we can orchestrate our driving selves in such a cooperative way that accidents are rare even in the most susceptible situation? It’s no secret when we are induced by both our personal safety and our pocket book to ensure we utilize rules—with their accompanying assumptions—to toe the line. We have all experienced the cost of a simple traffic ticket. Or even worse, a fatality or injury which can quickly and gravely outshadow any financial concerns. Thus, by serving our self-interest, we also serve the other’s self-interest as well. We nests the interest of other’s into ours.
As such, we can operate cooperatively in what seems to be unified agreement under the right self-serving conditions. When we scale up this driving overseas—notwithstanding Left vs. Right lane driving and language barriers—the rules and obligations remains much the same. ‘Stop’, ‘Do not Enter’, ‘Right turn only’, ‘One Way’: they are globally uniform in meaning, assumptions, inspiration, intent, and effect. So, in this particular driving case, it is possible for a global unification around a common set of agreements from which cooperative actions flow from. When given a commonly shared set of structural understandings in place, we can end up safely at our disparate destinations.
Obstacles In Learned Capacity Crossing Over to Climate Crisis
We are more vulnerable, susceptible to, and dependent on other systems than we would like to believe.
What if we use this unified thinking and cooperation in the awakening to our Climate Crisis issue? Why are we able to achieve this form of ‘Oneness’ with driving, but unable to do so when the climate signs are showing greater distress without abatement as time passes by?
One answer can perhaps be our forgetfulness we are more vulnerable, susceptible to, and dependent on other systems than we would like to believe. And that this forgetfulness is heightened by technologies (read smart phone and apps) to create and maintain an imaginary relationship with reality. We end up strengthening our ego-self at the expense of our eco-self.
One way we surreptitiously and unconsciously feed our ego-self is evident in the ways we ‘consume’ spirituality as ways to shake off our sensation of unease from living in modernity. We intuitively sense something is off, but yet the effusing culprit is hidden from plain sight. Alan Watts, a respected translator of Eastern mystics cum Spiritual Rebel, offers that we have an in-built bias towards seeking change from the outside. This external-seeking only blinds us from seeing we are the change we are seeking. This external bias causes us to extractively consume external teachings, practices, belief systems, inculcation etc. As a result, using the analogy of a multi-storied building, we pay to open the many doors within one floor of ourselves, confusing this surface act as stepping up to a higher floor within. And when our unease eventually returns, we double up by consuming even more to ward off such unwelcome return. This repeat-and-rinse cycle produces the opposite result than what we deeply desire as it distances us further from our inner key maker with each passing cycle.
Chogyam Trungpa, a groundbreaking Tibetan Buddhist teacher who introduced psychological thinking from his lineage to America, also speaks of a fundamental distrust within oneself. As such, this distrust has us turned around inside, spurring us to chase the wild goose path of spiritual materialism mentioned above.
When we heed all positive and negative forces within, we awake to our innate self-knowing.
Both these teachers proffer a common theme: we don’t need to change ourselves for we are change embodied. Our body contains processes for which—when left to its own natural course—they result in a providing a stability that is both balanced and holistic. It is an inside cooperation that courses a natural path without striving. This is illustrated when an organ serves the organism and not the other way. It is also when our body gives up dead cells in exchange with newer and vigorous ones. And because we don’t get in the way with this cell exchange, this cellular flux results in a different but higher order called Life as we know it.
As such, Trungpa would say, trust the very ground of change you are standing on. I would add that not only this ground offers tremendous innate intelligence but also all the necessary adjustments that re-engages the importance of the supports-for-life in a sustainable way. When we heed all positive and negative forces within, we awake to our innate self-processes, an intimacy of self that can often produce self-knowing. This way we don’t end up losing ourselves in the search for an external map that often defy these discoveries.
Self Protective Mechanisms Preventing Greater Access
But if all of us are imbued with this innate place, why can’t we collectively access it? Rather than the binariness of yes or no, I believe we are all capable of experiencing differing ranges of inner connections, different levels of access to that innate place. Trungpa points to this difference when he sees that we require Conceit and Self-Deception to protect an Egocentric framework of self that is both neurotic and topple heavy in nature. Similarly, Tao sees that we often protect our personal Tao cosmos (again an Egocentric system) forgetting its place with the Grand and Outer Cosmos of Reality. This leads to the common belief that perception is reality when we forget that perception engenders an inbuilt limitation as a facet of reality, rather than the act calling a facet the whole gem of reality.
Our minds forget (really it constricts, put all its eggs in its limited perception, while excluding its infallibility) the human species system is a nested system within the Planetary system. As such, the more the organ of mind confuses itself as an organism, the more it disassociates itself from its nested connections, the less it cooperates with adjacent systems, the more it imperils BOTH the organism and organ. Under such forgetfulness, the organ flies under the hubris of exceptionalism. Consequentially, we don’t flux with the world, a cyclic act from which all systems depend on to maintain its balance. Under an aggravated form of forgetfulness, we don’t get unnerved as we see the grave mismatch of Populism and its unfettered extractive ways on the uptick while the planet is in reparation.
So, what is behind our inability to dramatically turn around this human titanic currently heading towards the iceberg of ruin? Why is it, after having heard the designated crewman calling out distressfully for many decades of Climate Crisis, we simply can’t call the problem as we see it, get others to recognize it, and collectively turn this human titanic around in time. Why?
Issue of Setup and Setting
Our body psychology can often times access what is unconscious to the mind, restoring within us a fully integrated conscious experience.
I think one of the greatest but errant Setup problems for this lack of eco-self is believing reality is wholly separate from us as if we are aliens who have come into it. And as a result of this often unconscious/ sub-conscious setup, we experience a systemic alienation from the very support that gives life to us. Alan Watts, in his lecture The Great Myth of Self, says:
“And so we speak of confronting Reality, facing the facts. We speak of coming into this world (vs coming out from it). And this sensation that we are brought up to have being an island of consciousness, locked up in a bag of skin, facing outside us, a world that is profoundly alien to us in a sense what is outside me is NOT me. This sets up a fundamental sensation of hostility. An estrangement between ourselves and the external world”.
This coming-into-this-world myth not only sets up the stage for alienation between the outside and ourselves, but also a sense of disembodiment within ourselves. When our body psychology has access to what is unconscious to the mind, we restore a fully integrated conscious experience within. This is contrary to psychological developmental models suggesting we divest out of our body consciousness, investing more into our mind consciousness. So as a result of this, we become cutoff from feeling fully, deeply. Unfortunately, we lose out from not having a multi-path way that can bring reality into our perceptions in an often richer and more integrated way.
As for the Setting, I believe one of the greatest errant settings is our over emphasis of our biochemical musculature used in pursuing the extraction of calories and energy. And when you throw in the belief of Manifest Destiny, those acts often place us as exceptional to needs of other interdependent systems we are linked to. As a result, we suffer from an atrophy of holism, mutualism, and interdependence of nested systems.
“There must be a radical revolution in the world, a revolution in the very psyche itself”
One Tiny Drop recognizes this necessity of going inward in order to solve our externalized problems. For the general premise in its mission is when we feel fully, deeply, we can see we, just like the Planet, are systems seeking to achieve balance. We then coordinate our well-being from a nested systems level. However, this transformation can only happen when we restore our broader field of belonging to the web of life, much like the organ in dutiful balance to the organism. But this belonging can only happen when we lay down the egocentric defense mechanisms that results in Exceptionalism. We break the Chicken vs. Egg conundrum with the start of giving ourselves the deep permission for us to connect from a deeply supported place of holism. And often times we find this deep permission lying at the bottom of the well of grief, held under the depths of our conceit and self-deception which Exceptionalism has come to depend on.
Krishnamurthi says it best when he said ‘There must be a radical revolution in the world, a revolution in the very psyche itself’.
Fully Be and not just Feebly Be
To simply paraphrase the wisdom of great sages, fully be (coming through this world; feeling fully, deeply; connecting to our eco-self) and not just feebly be (coming into this world; feeling only confirming feelings of exceptionalism; remaining at our ego-self).
We cannot give the Planet what we haven’t given to ourselves. And with that, the Planet is seeking for itself what it is required for ourselves: a free and clear path for the innate processes to restore the balance necessary for deep change.
And as such, we can then drive our eco-self within the parameters of sustainability in much the same cooperative way we drive within the parameters of traffic to arrive at our destination safely.