Friday, July 14, 2006

Sogyal Rinpoche on Spiritual Environmentalism

[image source]

To serve the world out of the dynamic union of wisdom and compassion would be to participate most effectively in the preservation of the planet. Masters of all the religious traditions on earth now understand that spiritual training is essential not solely for monks and nuns but for all people, whatever their faith or way of life. The nature of spiritual development is intensely practical, active, and effective. The danger we are all in together makes it essential now that we no longer think of spiritual development as a luxury but as a necessity for survival.

As a famous Tibetan teaching says: “When the world is filled with evil, all mishaps should be transformed into the path of enlightenment.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day
This is so true it hurts. I'm not even sure how to look at this integrally because it feels so overwhelming in many ways. There is probably a developmental line that relates to this stewardship idea -- it certainly isn't limited to "second tier" thinking.

One of the most heartening things I have seen on the political landscape in the past few years is the Christian environmental movement. While we may not agree with their reasoning, they are beginning to take responsibility for the health of the creation over which their God presided. With as much political power as Christians have in this country, I am hopeful that they will begin to exert their influence in the area of environmental policy.

But the bottom line is that a useful spiritual life in an engaged spiritual life. We are all residents of this planet, and we each can take steps to reduce our impact, our environmental footprint, and to educate others in reducing their impact. If not us, then who?

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Anonymous said...

Speaking of Christian environmentalists, and since someone in an earlier thread recommended you try reading some right wing literature, here's a currently "hot" conservative book you might actually enjoy: Cruncy Cons

Unknown said...

Great idea, anonymous!

If there is a problem with your post, Bill, it reflects something that drives many a Repo-man bonkers: It is wholly coming from the liberal green mindset. Since this is something that affects the whole world, saving the world should be an effort to engage everybody.

Indeed, if there was something askew with your 7/12 posts, Bill, it was that you were preaching to the converted -- or at least to the green mindset. I would say that's fine re political wrestling and the need to dredge out the absurdities and define the argument. But this is different. Here you should be talking to everyone. The argument has be decided [tho, certainly, a lot of folks don't know it: the planet IS warming up.]

Your post sounds like liberal do-gooderism: Hippies buying hybrid cars; a family raising squash in their backyard; a call for stoicism.

Gore informs us he isn't running for president, again -- essentially for this reason. He doesn't want to politicize the Global Warming issue.

And hell yes it would be aided by second-tier thinking, precisely because the issue needs to engage everyone.

An argument that would appeal to conservatives is that this is an opportunity -- for new technologies, for robust goals, for transformational busnesses. Screw the backyard pumpkin; let us invent our way out of this crisis.

william harryman said...


Einstein once said that we can never solve a problem with the same consciousness that created the problem -- with that truism in mind, inventing our way out of global warming will never work.

Certainly we need an integral solution, and if I had one, I'd be shouting it the world.

We need to employ spiral thinking for sure, since it will be countries that are lowest on the spiral who will be contributing the most to the crisis in the coming years (third world countries are exempt from the Kyoto protocals, which is the reason Bush once gave for not signing on -- though we know he had other motives as well).

Spiral Dynamics is clear on a couple of points: first and foremost, if you want to change people, you must change the conditions in which they live. For example, if we really want to help Islamo-fascists in the Middle East evolve, get them some I-Pods and some computers, and we'll see a higher quality of thinking that access to the world can provide. The second point is that we cannot impose on lower memes the values of higher memes--it never works. This holds true in the US as well.

If we want conservatives (and I think you are talking mostly about the Orange meme, though conservatives fall along the entire spiral), to embrace the environment, we must find a way to help them feel that their way of life is at stake if they do not. Al Gore's film cuts across political values in that regard, if the viewer is willing to listen to the facts.

The problem is that there are a lot of people like Michael Crichton who argue that global warming is a load of crap perpetuated by the Green meme. All the sceintists in the world can shout him down, and most do, but he and a handful of others provide enough cover for egocentric people who do not want to believe it's happening that they can choose to ignore it -- unfortunately, these people tend to be politicians and business leaders.

As much as it sucks, right now the best solution is to create a grassroots movement that spans the spiral, from Blue environmental Christians, to Orange people with their own interests at heart, to Green tree huggers, and the handful of integral thinking folks out there who feel that the chaotic flexflow is managable.

We can vote with our dollars, too, choosing to support energy companies that are forward thinking (BP rather than Exxon), buy cars that are good on fuel use, and a million other choices -- check out the BuyBlue web site I posted about.

Yeah, that sounds like a Green approach, but it doesn't require anyone to believe that all views are relative, it does non reject hierarchies of value (in fact, it embraces them), it does not need to change lower memes to match anyone's values -- what it does is place responsibility for change with each of us. And that's where it needs to begin.


Unknown said...

Yeah. Yours is, indeed, a Green Approach.

I'm not really arguing a conservative case, Bill. I am arguing for welcoming a conservative approach. But, I think, certainly invention can play a big part in burying CO2, in more efficient cars, in lowering the cost of other sources of energy and getting them to market. [Indeed, some of this was a part of Gore's movie.]

A lot of egocentric people won't believe Global Warming is happening AS IT HAPPENS. Forget Crichton's cover; there will always be somebody.

I probably just don't understand what you think you're trying to correct from your 7/12 posts. The only change you seem to be interested in is making sure you post from the narrow Left ledge -- with the addition of now being politically correct. No courage in that.

william harryman said...

I'm not trying to change anything about this blog, other than avoiding the MGM as much as possible.

I'm not second tier, so it's not likley I can offer much of a second tier view.

And if I were standing on a narrow liberal ledge, I'd be arguing that we pass new laws to enforce environmental protection, or that we tax the hell out of polluters -- both of which are not bad ideas.

But what I am arguing for is personal responsibility, one of the hallmarks of the conservative agenda. Rather than blaming everyone else for my problems, or for the problems in this nation or on this planet -- which is surely part of the equation -- I contend that it is up to you and me and everyone else to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live.

Philosophically speaking, liberalism places responsibility in government and the social structures, while conservatism places responsibility with individuals. Wilber argues this distinction and I agree with it (as does the Oxford Companion to Philosophy).

The middle way is to inspire everyone to take responsibility for the planet -- and part of being responsible is leaving a smaller environmental footprint, voting for politicians who will work for that agenda, and supporting businesses who will as well.


Unknown said...

Today's conservatives aren't Goldwater conservatives. Not that I've read it, but I think that is the gist of Dean's new book.

Republicans of our day [not that they're monolithic, still ...] tend to like the idea of bartered polution quotas in industy. And they also believe, as do many Democrats, that we need a worldwide framework. Kyoto failed, not only with Bush but would have overwhelmingly with congress, because, it it thought to be unfair to America.

Some of the ideas that Republicans like could work! And certainly we all need Republicans to buy into any program that is devised. I don't know that this is quite the case, but you write, "The middle way is to inspire everyone to take responsibility for the planet."

I'm not so sure you're avoiding the MGM -- indeed, contrariwise -- but it is your effort and your blog so I will bow and desist.

Anonymous said...

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





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