Peace and purpose

Without too much ado or fanfare I am going to quietly commit to reinstating a blog presence and pray that it assists me as I move forward in this life, with aims towards an arrival to wisdom someday. Though confounded by the ‘I-generation’ and highly-personalized times I live in – times when everyone seems to launch some aspect of themselves into the public spaces we’ve made available for that, and sometimes the world seems like a very densely populated frog pond of croaking opinions or instagram photos and face-feeds – well, perhaps I’ve just been sour to not have joined the cacophony myself. Maybe while my own pen lays idle I seethe at my own public quietude? And then I asked: If this seething is inward, how does it also manifest outwardly, in other ways?

So, I’ll tell you why I write here: simply to save my most cherished relationships! It’s becoming apparent that I am sometimes perceived to be overly aggressive and self-righteous when in the presence of the few most dearest people I have around me: my girlfriend, my family, my neighbours, or my closest friends. And I’ve realized that I have a few things to say, or maybe many! (energies to let flow through me) and that the people I share intimate space and relationships with may not want or need that message repeatedly blasted at them from me; that a part of me – the warrior, the writer, the idea-activist, etc – needs its arena. I must be-and-do this role in some more constructive ways, or this aspect of myself will manifest itself in other, less effective or healthy ways.

Dam a watercourse and see how the flood channel concentrates the flow of water into intense kinetic energy. Now be careful where and how you harness and aim that energy, and be wary of the upstream and downstream effects. Know thyself as sacred watershed of thoughts, emotions, actions and design your concentrated flows, aims, and ambitions care-fully so as to achieve a desired effect. Use your energy wisely, refine the system. Don’t be afraid to err, but take those errs as lessons and improve. My desired effect is to Care for my people and place. Not blast them away with the passions of the mind.

So perhaps this is a buckle up and lower the blast shield? Perhaps I, like so many people in this time of highly developed self-importance, simply need a place to aim and blast these materials? Is that what our social media-sphere is providing? It sure seems like it sometimes: fire energy into the collective life so it doesn’t pollute or destroy the private life? Do we trust and expect that the public body is strong enough to hold our heated passions?

At any rate, I’d like to hone this lobbing-of-self and to polish it to refined gracefulness, a dance of ideas and words and images. I see myself as a living element in a vast web of beings experiencing and dealing with life’s mysteries, challenges, and rewards. What are we supposed to be-and-do here? And I admit to the existential-ness of a statement like that, and then can commit to the calling to self-refinement. I don’t mean to hurt the people I care and need near me the most, in fact quite the opposite, and my ignore-ance of calling to express and share can have that unfortunate effect. So I’ll choose a different pathway, so help me God.

May we all find peace, and purpose.

Conformity & Rebellion?

Unlike a glory-and-greatness I had believed was golden and out there waiting for my discovery and conquest, and for which I searched so far, long, and painfully, the rural goodness back on the Lands of my youth is simple, priceless, and rich – spiritual currency, all around and in my arms and open heart. Yes, the opportunity to co-author a bit of psychological reality has arrived via my new dog, Oats the Border Terrier.

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Looking back at the past half a life, I guess I’m glad I was attracted by curiosity and adventure (or was it the repulsion of mundane mediocrity?) Whichever it was, for many years the idea of acceptance was totally unacceptable, and I rebelled against conformity with a gusto. So I did many things in support of expanding frontiers – what walls and borders were put in place by the colonial culture I was born and raised into – and in defiance of a strange and contorted status quo that seems nearly criminal. Criminal how? Well, isn’t it theft-like to demote young, conscious, and creative spiritual beings of their imagination and morality, plug ’em in and drive ’em along via the fear of lack, or punishments for breaking ‘the rules’?! (Rules set up by who, exactly?) Or, to lure us along with the outcome-and-reward-based systems of modern home, school, and work environments? Yet these societal forms run uncontested and accepted by most snoozy denizens of today’s industrial planet earth, fattened and drugged by excesses that are considered rewards for sufferances, er ‘contributions’: “Kiddo, just do as you’re told, do it well, and you get a pat on the head, an ‘A’, or a paycheque… shhhhh… be a good boy.”

But lest I rant, rather I shall inquire and see where that leads. So: What is conformity? And what is rebellion?

Although is often it may not appear so, the little naked ape is not a greedy, self-centred, competitive or violent being by Nature alone. We’ve mostly been encouraged to behave that way. Whilst a debate about ‘nature vs. nurture’ continues, the answer is that both operate. Yes, Homo sapiens sapiens is born fully capable of Care and, willful care is a feature of the species that is particularly unique amongst earth’s lifeforms, given the chance and conditions and education. The same is true of a knowledge of morality – knowing right from wrong. Following then, via what would be ‘true education’ (as opposed to the institutional colonial conditioning we call learning), we would learn to discern and choose right thoughts, right feelings, and right behaviours, over wrong ones… that is, we’d willfully choose morally right ways of being – objective rights not subjective rights – in accordance with the Higher Will of the Creative forces of the universe.

Though made to seem overly complex, hence confusing (think of human laws and regulations!!!), morality is as simple as most Truths are, and it’s through Morality that true freedom is found. When we choose rightly, we are free. Simple. Obvious to the human soul, taking what does not belong is wrong, as is killing, rape, murder, and the whole host of other cardinal sins. We know this, and have known it for a long time – lest we forget. And excluding psychopathy (which I heard once occurs naturally in the human population at a rate of 1 in 40 people!) all people know what is right and want to enact it. And this knowledge of Right vs. Wrong is perhaps our greatest gift, and guidance.

In permaculture we first observe, then we design, then we construct. When an innocent and avid observer of the world (perhaps, I admit, too openly sometimes) I have suffered greatly and been hurtled into bouts of terrible confusion at the too-many and overwhelming contradictions of modern life. Nukes?! Deforestation?! SUVs?! Porn?! Right, ok… but didn’t God create us in ‘His’ image? Reeeeally? Oh no? Then wait, aren’t we the only intelligent life form in the otherwise chaotic and unintelligent mechanical universe? Fuck, gimme a break… something is amiss, I’m sure of it, even in my sometimes-confused state.

But I said I wouldn’t rant; that I’d inquire into the nature of conformity and rebellion. So do that Ryan, at least a bit, please. Ok:

I just got puppy. He’s 8-weeks old. He’s a good boy. And, after a solid day of running around with me out on the Land, and learning play and poop and obedience and dog around with me and his aunty Candy and cousin Ruby, and the random people and kids we met out n’ about, he’s sleeping in the chair here beside me, apparently dreaming in his little puppy subconscious, as his tiny arms n’ legs are a twitching around. So cute!

But why bring Oatie into this? Conformity? Rebellion?

Having just landed on this new family farmland project, where I shall rebirth Livingland, I can finally get into relationship with a dog, something I’ve considered for years, but never been ‘stable enough’ to do. And wanting to relate with a dog that would be of some practical farm-and-family value here, I first observed for several months: Permaculture. So, there is a mounting rat issue on Hornby Island, and most people call the exterminator to er(rat)icate these ‘vermin’ (though honestly, by a human definition of vermin, we’d mostly be shooting our own species in the foot because we aren’t much different in many ways!). So, rats? = poison = I don’t think so, no way! Killing that way is totally immoral, period. Poisoning Life is wrong. Period. So what then?

So I observed the rats, and the island, and my family. And I researched possibilities. In permaculture the various parts of a project are called elements, and we design such that the needs of one element are provided for by the products of another. (More on permaculture elements later). The food gardens and animal barns here need to be rat-free, and ta-da, a small terrier (from terra, for ‘earth’ dog) produces this effect, and also needs vermin to be happy (as it then has useful work to do and be entertained with, and happy). Enter Oats, the Border Terrier.

But what I have found particularly interesting so far, is the psychology of a dog. Though many suggested I get a ‘rescue dog’ because as goes the argument: ‘There are already too many dogs in the world’, I chose to get a young puppy. Oatie is just 8-weeks old, which means to me: no trauma – and no conformity (to what he has become) or rebellion (against what he has become). If I am as good as my intention and word, I will give this little dog a chance to be a good boy, by cultivating a psyche that is healthy and content – I shall not abuse this little being, by neglect or battery. Because, there are already too many (neglected and beaten) dogs in the world, and little Oatie will not join the ranks of them!

As far as I have learned, the period of early psychological growth and attunement is critical to cultivating the ‘good dog’ of highest canine possibility, which means a dog that lives in knowledge and choice and harmony of the (obviously human-dominated) world he finds himself in – no biting people, fighting other dogs, eating chickens, barking incessantly, pisspooping on the floor, etc. So, from 8-12 weeks of age, this little guy will establish in his psyche most of the socially acceptable (or not!) patterns that will carry him (or not!) through his life, with ease and enjoyment. Here, many and diverse positive social experiences are crucial for life-long integrative wellbeing.

I believe the same is true of humans, only that the formative period lasts longer in people, from say 0-7 years old. Whether or not Oatie (and human children) get this golden opportunity to live well and trauma-less, they may survive, but locked up behind doors or fences or jail cells or work cubicles, or more freely harmonious and authentically self-expressed, that is the question. Survive-or-thrive? Conform-and-rebel, or… ____? Live well!!

Conformity and rebellion are expressed in relation to what a living being has experienced and knows. These dynamics reside mostly in subconscious levels of psychological function, and have both natural and nurtured tendencies. Dogs will be dogs, yes, and people will be people, yes. Each have species-specific attributes and socially-conditioned aspects. But one thing is sure, by all accounts it is much harder to retrain an anxious dog not to bark and bite, etc., after he’s already become a jittery bark-biter, and much harder to retrain an anxious or depressed, etc., human not to think and believe so negatively after he’s already learned to think and believe this way. It would be better all-around to___… You tell me, or… let’s learn together. Fact is, there are already too many bark-biting, etc., dogs and anxious-depressed, etc., people in the world. We can, and we will, do much better that this!

Well come, and arrived to the Land

Welcome to The Livingland Project, a platform through which we may heal our most pressing personal, social, and ecological problems, transforming them into incredible opportunities for each one of us, and life on earth.

Aye, it can seem like our world is in crisis, yet perspective is everything. At all levels crises form a fundamental part of the evolutionary history of earth, and cosmos – and we all know great struggles become great growth points. Still, the particularities of this present episode offer one species in particular some tremendous options. From the biological and social histories of earth we learn that challenging times like the ones we are in now alway spawn remarkable evolutions. My vision and prayer is for Homo sapiens sapiens to embrace the vast possibilities at hand – The Livingland Project is about this.

As founder of the organization, I my own evolution is part of the project. So I will speak and express my Truths through the blog as deeply as I am able, and in sharing hope to find and cultivate common grounds. Through searches, adventures, and people-planet projects across this beautiful globe, as I search for, find, and contribute to creating examples: ecological sustainability and restoration, thriving community, holistic health, spiritual integrity, poetic inspiration, political justice, and more; I discover people who share common interests and aspirations, and realize these sacred human attributes are often humble and simple to achieve. So, in speaking openly about things we often do not, and creating a space for ‘going deep’ I discover that people are hungry – if not starving – for a new type of conversation, one where the ‘problem’ is taken out of ‘problem-solving’, and indeed, we see reality from a vantage point of personal and planetary possibility and authentic advance.

Via honest, heartfelt, scientific, and mystical encounters with beings from diverse nations, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, races, creeds, genders, and ages, and even with animals, plants, spirits, and places, I find that opening the conversation to include psychospiritual dimensionality is very fruitful. As Carl Jung did, acknowledging the full existence of the psyche elucidates commonalities that reach far deeper than the superficial appearances and stories of separation that we so often identify with and call truth today. As human beings and earth’s lifeforms, we share ancient legacies of connections and cooperations – we are all in this together! In stark contrast to the competitive modes of the current paradigm, The Livingland Project is about these connections and cooperations – all life is co-participating in the evolutionary saga, of which you and I, today, are vital parts.

And as for my mother, she has grown older too. Unlike the Mother who through childhood fed her child ceaselessly without regard for her own body and health, now the Earth has grown up, and so have we, her children. Today the Mother becomes the Lover again, as we each learn to be Kind and Care, to truly act in love for ourselves and the Earth – this is our unifying mission and task. Love is first a verb, and then the feeling that comes after. To feel love we must first learn how to act love, be love, and make love.

Growing up, we find ourselves today within a terrifying rite of passage. In the rite of passage ritual children become men and women by surviving demanding tests of courage, wisdom, capacity, knowledge, loyalty, and strength. Isolation and facing one’s deepest fears are vital to the ritual. Today people do feel alone and scared. Through forces beyond our knowing and design, we live separate from each other and Life, and find ourselves bombarded with nightmarish reports of ecological demise, climate horrors, socio-political strife, wars, economic despair… Whether we like, admit it, embrace it… or not… today we face a terrifying global ritual: the rite of passage for humanity is well underway. And it happens for each individual in unique ways, sacred and shared in our fantasies, fears, private lives, and communities.

But, the ritual always ends with celebration and a welcoming home!

While the transformation of child to adult requires a psychospiritual death, so follows a glorious rebirth and resurrection of the essential spirit within, called forth and freed to serve and express for the betterment of All. Via the ritual, the dependency of childhood is transformed into the interdependency of the adult tribal member. And we are here today, in the midst of this.

So we say YES! to knowing our problems and turning them into possibilities, and YES to making friends of our enemies! We say YES! to kindness and bravery in facing this dark night of the soul, for we and for all Life on earth. YES! to life united as one phenomenal story. YES! to the trials of a species and planet in evolution! The world is our world, and the work is our work. YES! to transformation and using what small and precious gift is human consciousness to enlightening the dark, and cultivating living systems, for All. YES! to being a lover of earth, sweet Earth, YES! We love you and will behave as we who do. God and Goddess willing, let we, and let me, learn to be a kind lover, and friend. Yes, to this, and more friends…

What tremendous evolutionary-divine forces have worked for countless billions of years to bring this brief moment to shine, where you and I are here together to witness and share such colossal times, and co-participate in the chapter of the story that birthed a paradigm and Ethic of Care!

So, Livingland is about acknowledging, embracing, and putting into action all of the sacred gifts and talents that humanity is imbued with – it’s about arts, science, spirituality, psychology, society, and health. It’s about the restoration of living systems, from the inner recesses of each human mind, body, and spirit via the practices of transformative psychology, holistic health and diet, mediations, yoga, massage, and creative expression, to the vast and interconnected ecosystems of land and sea that sustain us all, via restorative organic agriculture, permaculture, agroforestry, transition towns, new politics, and regenerative lifestyles and practices.

In a famous quote Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” So what is a new thinkingthat might solve our most pressing problems and turn them into opportunities for healing, growth, and evolution? What does evolution ask us humans to become, believe, and do to get us safely through this transition from a mostly destructive presence to a net restorative one, from a ‘me first’ to a ‘we forever’ ethical operative, and from human-un-kind to humankind, for real.

Let’s co-create this my friends. :)

Welcome to The Livingland Project.