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Archive for the ‘american pathology’ Category

In a TED Talk Jon Jandai offers some significant food for thought regarding what truly matters and how we complicate our lives unnecessarily.

Here’s an example of his simple wisdom, Before I thought that stupid people like me … cannot have a house… because people who are cleverer than me and get a job need to work for 30 years to have a house. But for me, who cannot finish university, how can I have a house. It’s hopeless for people who have low education like me. But when I start to do earthen buildings, it’s so easy! I spent two hours per day… and in 3 months I have a house. A friend who was the most clever in the class he has a house too but he has to be in debt for 30 years, so compared to him I have 29 years and 9 months of free time. I feel life is so easy.” 

And here’s another, “I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this Earth.  We have so many people who finish university, we have so many universities on the Earth.  We have so many clever people on this Earth.  But, life is harder and harder.  We make it hard for whom?  We work hard for whom right now?”

Jandai’s message resonates with me as I seriously consider taking the next step towards living more simply and consciously.

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In his thought provoking post, “10 Ways Mental Health Professionals Increase Misery in Suffering People Bruce Levin quoted Martin Luther King who asserted in a 1962 speech that:

“Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted”. . . There are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted. . . I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence… I’m about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world: The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”

Approximately half a century later, maybe it’s time we finally created that association.

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I  just finished reading Rocky Braat’s blog, a young man who is devoting  his life to serving poor orphaned and abandoned children stricken with aids in India    I read  his blog surrounded by creature comforts in a land of plenty while our collective national preoccupation appears to be our faltering economy.  I read two days following a holiday still deemed by many to be sacred in spite of the sad fact that its primary message appears to have become “buy this.”   I read in my warm and cozy room, shaken once again by the profound suffering and deprivation  that exists in other parts of the world, and by the spiritual poverty that threatens  my own country.

Braat observes, “very few people in the West recognize how often the white knights of citizenship, medicine, and raw, brutal wealth sweep us up in their powerful arms and bear us from the battleground of suffering. Our bank accounts, our families, our insurance policies and hospitals, our consulates and ambassadors have so often rescued us from folly and misfortune that our psyches cannot squarely contemplate the torment that is the lot of the truly poor. ”

In the midst of our pain and our shame and our debt, there are alternative stories to the “Buy Me”  story so prevalent in the United States.  Following is one of those alternative stories, told by  activist and philanthropist, Lynn Twist.

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allison 2

Photographer: Allison Fowles

Following is a poem by Tom Atlee that I believe speaks to each and every one of us, particulary as our beautiful blue planet heats up, civil unrest reverberates in all four corners of the world, and a fourth of July approaches where it’s not the fireworks alone that causes the earth to tremble.

Extra Ordinary Days

On seven otherwise ordinary days

an Oregon graduate student discovered — without even meaning to —
that a newly engineered bacteria
might accidentally destroy all terrestrial plants

a controversial election ended
with the U.S. Supreme Court
making the loser President of the United States

a flock of geese came within seconds of triggering
global thermonuclear war
a dime-sized robot was created,
capable of prowling around buildings
in coordinated swarms

a dozen physicists debated whether to proceed with an experiment
that might turn the earth into a black hole

global trade in high-tech torture devices was found to be booming,
with a 7500% increase since the 1970s
in the number of companies making
electroshock stun weapons

and, oh yes,
a hundred species disappeared from earth forever,
along with 18,000 hungry children
(but we knew that already: that happens every day)…

Is it possible that
life is not ordinary any more,
despite all its appearances
and comforts?

Yesterday, I saw the death of life itself
stalking just around the corner
of that very ordinary day.

And today, just a few minutes ago,
I saw it watching us
as we dashed along the edge of the End Times,
looking straight ahead, moving fast,
desperate to accomplish so many urgent things.

It is time to look down —
at the earth, at the void, at our hearts.
Perhaps only a blast of vertigo will snap the trance,
call off The Fall,
save our souls and the world in one clear Seeing.
For we are too busy in a not-see death camp on the edge
of the beginning
of the world’s ending.

The prospect of Death, seen once, unmistakeably,
can do wonders for Life.
We need to see death now,
clearly,
for the sake of the children
of this and every generation to come,
of this and every type of life.

When the fire starts in the kitchen downstairs
at 2 am,
we’ll only get one chance to wake up.
Please don’t think the alarm
is part of your dream.
For I have seen this, and it is a fact:
Business as usual is over —
despite everything that remains to be done.

It has been said that war is obsolete.
I say, in the same way,
that business as usual is over —
even though the sun also rises
and the bells toll.

It has been said that what is happening is inevitable.
Well, I say unto you:
Business as usual is over —
even though its presence continues insisting
like the ghost of an amputated arm.

And now I’ll whisper this last:

(For the sake of the children:
Let’s wake up
together
in the very next extraordinary day
that so much needs and wants us awake.)

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Photo by Guy Mayer

In a thought provoking paper entitled, Reflections on Sacred Experience and Sacred Science, Peter Reason wrote, “…I heard for the first time the challenge that we in the West had lost the feeling for sacredness, the ability to notice the sacredness of our world, and that we need to discover this anew if we are to learn from the traditions of Native Americans. One is entering a different world, a world that is again alive and enchanted, a world in which all sentient beings bring their gifts of teachings, and are thus worthy of honour. Such an animate world is akin to that inhabited by the alchemists, and can only be comprehended fully through a participatory consciousness.”

In this same paper Reason quotes the following from Morris Berman’s book, “The Re-enchantmant of the World:”

“The view of nature which predominated in the West down to the eve of the Scientific Revolution was that of an enchanted world. Rocks, trees, rivers, and clouds were all seen as wondrous, alive, and human beings felt at home in this environment. The cosmos, in short, was a place of belonging. A member of this cosmos was not an alienated observer of it but a direct participant in its drama….The story of the modern epoch, at least on the level of mind, is one of progressive disenchantment. From the sixteenth century on, mind has been progressively expunged from the phenomenal world… At least in theory…the “mechanical philosophy”… (is) the dominant mode of thinking. That mode can best be described as disenchantment, nonparticipation, for it insists on a rigid distinction between observer and observed. Scientific consciousness is alienated consciousness: there is no ecstatic merger with nature, but rather total separation from it…”

Reason points out that our disenchantment and disconnection from the natural world and from our own experience has led us to a kind of soul sickness and calls for a “re-sacralization of the world.” One way to do this, he suggests, is to follow theologian Matthew Fox’s advice to “…fall in love at least three times a day.”

And so today I fell in love with a puppy I met on my walk, rubbing my cheek against her silky soft fur, and laughing fully from my belly as she wiggled wildly and covered my face with kisses.

Later I witness the anguish and sorrow of a couple desperately attempting to find their way across a chasm that seems to grow wider and more dangerous with each moment – with each jagged heartbeat – and with each accusation. Finally, as they sit rigid and exhausted, I ask them to take just a few moments to listen for what else might lie silently beneath their fears, anger, frustration and betrayals. Softly at first, barely perceptible even, their breathing steadies and something indescribable begins to happen as the energy in the room shifts and remarkably (you would have had to have been there) and seemingly as if by magic we are each touched and even (I think) for a moment transfixed by the undeniable presence of a battered and weary but still living love.

After work I spoke with a friend whom I’ve known for over thirty years and as she shared with me a simple and yet oh so sweet story about her day, I allowed myself to savor her voice, her laughter, and her unique and wildly optimistic perspective, and I felt my love for her warm my heart and gentle my spirit.

And so, I have fallen in love at least three times today and I resolve to fall in love at least three times tomorrow as well. In doing so, I allow myself to be enchanted and to more fully embrace the sacred.

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I found this cartoon at theragblog.blogspot.com

In Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy James A. Roberts explores the hidden motivations and false assumptions that fuel our over spending and explains how we can free ourselves from the devastating consequences of materialism.

In the first chapter of his book, Dr. Roberts writes, “It is my hope that reading this book will give you the time, space and motivation to examine your day-to-day behaviour in a way that our hectic lives rarely allow. Some of the studies and statistics I’ll share may surprise you. Some may sound like they’re describing someone else. But they all speak to one undeniable truth: as consumers, we’re not who we think we are. It’s time to bridge the gap between what we say and what we do. It’s time to recommit ourselves to the kind of pursuits that are the true source of our well-being: spending time with loved ones, reaching our full potential as human beings, and participating actively in our world. No small task, but one well worth the effort: our happiness lies in the balance.”

During this season of high stress and high consumption, I highly recommend this book.

You can Listen to him speaking about his book at Consumerism Commentary

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I just learned that Theodore Roszack died this past July in his California home at the age of 77 from liver cancer.

I’ll miss him. I’ll miss his wisdom, his perspective, his call to therapists everywhere to respond to the “madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment…” He urged us to join those ecologists and environmentalists who warn that we’re on a path of self-destruction. He implored us not to remain so focused on our clients’ individual issues that we failed to confront the wounds inflicted by a “deeply toxic” culture. In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove on Thinking Allowed, he encouraged us to find out why ordinary people are engaging in behaviors that are so destructive. To ask, “how did we lose our intimate connection to the natural world?” And “what drives us so fiercely towards material gain at the expense of community, spirituality, health, morality, and so very much more?” And he adviced us to listen very carefully to the answers as closely and as genuinely as we listen to the stories of our clients.

He pointed out that while our mental health system was focused on trauma, pathology and illness for so long, there have always been those who’ve maintained that, “the deeper you look inside, the more reason you find for joy, for celebration; that the foundations for human nature are clean and good and innocent and creative.” He asked us, as mental health professionals, to lead the way in helping people move away from the burdens of shame and guilt and original sin and towards what psychoanalyst Eric Fromme called, biophilia — the love of humanity and life. If we were to fall in love with the beauty that’s contained both within the natural world and within ourselves, we’d be far more proactive in caring for ourselves, our planet, and one another.

In an interview on PBS which focused on ideas from his first book, an examination of the revolutionary youth movement of the sixties entitled, “The Making of a Counter Culture,” Roszac suggested that if the ethos of the sixties had prevailed today, “it would be a world, where people lived gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. It would be a simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, and much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community. Community was one of the great words of this period, getting together with other people, solving problems, enjoying one another’s company, sharing ideas, values, insights. And if that’s not what life is all about, if that’s not what the wealth is for, then we are definitely on the wrong path.”

He called on therapists such as myself in his book, “The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology,” and he called on boomers such as myself in his last book, “The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation,” to relaim the spirit that was very much alive in the sixties, the one that “questioned rather deeply the cultural standards of the time. He asked us now that we are becoming elders to revive the energy and commitment we had back when we were young to work to birth a better and more just world.

I will miss you Theodore. I took you for granted. I was too self absobed to fully hear your message. And now, as is all too often the case with we humans, you got my full attention only when I found out that you had left me. I’m listening now with both a sad and grateful heart….

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