Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Rant About Penn State and the "Fake Warrior Culture"

"The intersection of America's fake warrior culture of football with the nation's fake moral and ethical culture is instructive. It has many levels, like a convoluted freeway intersection of on-ramps, off-ramps, and merge-ramps."

Read the whole article

I love James Howard Kunstler. He has been absolutely prescient about where our society is headed in a world of finite fossil fuels, the suburban debacle, even the crash of Wall Street. He does this with a stiletto-sharp mind, a penchant for biting metaphor, and the best sense of humor in the blogosphere. Kunstler has long warned of the horrendous hangover we're going to wake up with after our "cheap oil fiesta," but he's not gloating as global instability and climate destabilization become the new not-so-normal. Unlike some dystopians, he's motivated less by the desire to say "I told you so" than by the hope that we might still manage to reinvent the American dream on a scale that better suits our current circumstances.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This is The Tipping Point: Giving Death

by Anyaa McAndrew and Gary Stamper

A couple of years ago we lost Anyaa's fifteen year-old Westie companion, Miss Lily, a shamanic healing dog if there ever was one. Miss Lily had already been through a couple of "shamanic deaths" where we almost lost her, but this time there was no saving her. Anyaa felt strongly that Miss lily was ready, and she made the heart-breaking decision to gift Miss Lily, and our community, with consciously "giving death' to her. In a beautiful ceremony at one of Miss Lily's favorite places, we gathered community, many of Anyaa's Priestesses, the circle of men that were at the Cove, and with the help of our vet, Tami Shearer, we all said our goodbyes as we ushered in the conscious passing of this beloved friend, as the painless process took place. There was not a dry eye to be seen.

It seemed as if Miss Lily understood the process and surrendered to it, as we all did. Her passing was her last living gift to us, although her gifts continue to this day for all who hold her memory.

We all now face similar challenges, only on a global scale never before seen.

Classic Shamanism, as opposed to Core Shamanism, is generally entirely involuntary. The individual is chosen by the spirits, often with no warning, and is not allowed to refuse the "gift", or they will suffer illness, and/or insanity, and/or death. Classic Shamanism is nearly always accompanied by a traumatic death-and-rebirth experience, after which the personality is radically changed.

Core Shamanism, on the other hand, is generally entirely voluntary. The individual chooses the path, rather than being chosen for it by the spirits. Although the seeker may feel "drawn" to shamanic practices, they are not in danger of illness, insanity or death for refusing to follow a particular path. They may choose their own human teachers, and they may stop at any time; although their lives may be poorer for it, they will not usually be penalized by the spirits unless they have made specific bargains.

Our "Collapse" will be approached through both paths. We must choose to change or the change can choose us. One is consciously "giving death," and the other is entirely out of our control.

Anyaa and I have chosen the marriage of the two paths to help birth in a new world using a process we're calling "Integral Shamanism." From the Integral path, it requires the widest perspectives possible, which means that we absolutely must step out of denial about what's happening today: the collapse of the industrial age and the battle for control of the planet. From the Shamanic path, it means we must welcome and mid-wife in the death of the old so the new can emerge.

There's a strong tendency around denial to think that if we just envision the future we want to live in, that we can make it happen, and to a degree, that's true. We need a vision of where we want to go, but it cannot happen through reform or incremental change. Because our culture is so death phobic, and because we don’t really relish losing our lifestyles, we don’t want to focus on the death of the old. It's important to understand that we must also die in the process, and that this deathing process is good and right. It frees us from the tyranny of a debt-based, consumerism at the expense of the rest of the world lifestyle that keeps us stuck and far from free. Once we can really get that, we can cheer on the coming demise of the old way, we can re-learn from the shamanic traditions that death has a season and a cycle and is our ally. We can learn from death, and grieve, and then begin to move on into regeneration and rebirth with the new energy that we have gathered in the process.

The time is now and the cycle is complete. We need to "give death" to the old power structure that has controlled the planet, and we cannot give up or stop standing for what we believe. This is where the Integral Warrior lives. The reason we now have the ability to do this is because those power structures are crumbling through their greed and their actions are becoming more and more transparent by the minute: FEMA camps, GMO foods, vaccinations, surveillance, giving up our rights for safety, the outright theft of trillions of dollars going to the elites as they attempt to push the rest of world deeper into global totalitarianism. We recommend the recently released film "Thrive" to see the whole picture from a compassionate and well-informed perspective, although we think the ending and its suggestions are partial, and not from the highest perspective. Those who have bought and sold our country have been openly talking about "The New World Order" for quite some time. Even with all this information that is available to us, because of our denial, we still cannot stop thinking about these things in terms of conspiracy theories. We don’t want to seem ‘crazy’ or like some kind of extremist, and we don’t want to think that the power elite could really be that malevolent, so we put our suspicions away and go back into a semi-sleep. That's their plan: to keep us asleep long enough to implement their plans.

Our job now, men and women, as Integral Warriors, is to fight them with everything we have. We cannot stop with only a vision of the future, we must gift the planet with the death of patriarchy and the power elite. We must be actively giving death to an already dying, but not dead, empire. By consciously entering into our planet’s Dark night of the Soul, we engage the SacredActivist as championed by Andrew Harvey as expressed in his recent book, “TheHope".

The spark was ignited in December of 2010, following Mohamed Bouazizi'sself-immolation in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. A series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa has become known as the "Arab Spring" even though not all participants in protests identify as Arab. To date, three governments have been overthrown as a result of the Arab Spring. It's not hard to include the current OWS movement, first in the US, and now spreading across 80+ counties, as part of a greater whole, the hundredth monkey, the tipping point so desperately needed to shift us into the creative power of the next structure of consciousness that wants to emerge on the planet. As the Nation magazine points out, "After decades of exploitation, murder, and fraud, the corporate state is facing a genuine uprising of the people." It's about time.

Now, not all of these movements want the same thing. In the Arab Spring, most people want more freedom, better wages, and a chance at a middle class lifestyle. It doesn't take a genius to understand that 7 billion people are not going to enjoy the same version of the middle class that we in the U.S. are in the process of losing.  In 2004, the United States accounted for 4.6 percent of the world's population and 33 percent of global consumption--more than $9 trillion U.S. dollars.

Our role, as integral thinkers at the Strategic level of consciousness, or higher, is to first mid-wife in the death of the elite power structures, to hold the vision of those corrupt systems crumbling, and do whatever is needed to help them along as quickly as possible. Don't be an observer in this drama. Don’t go back to thinking that we just need some good reforms, some band-aid fixes to help us hobble through to the next crisis. We have gone far beyond that, folks. Instead, if you are not informed, if you are avoiding reality, commit yourself to seeing the biggest possible picture of what is really happening on the planet. The number of information resources out there is staggering. Jump on board this very fast-moving train of consciousness, and don’t get lost in utopian visions of the future just yet. The time is NOW to help the shamanic deathing process. We must engage, because it's only through sheer numbers of consciousness that we can break through to the other side where we have a chance to do everything differently.

We are winning, as is evidenced by the fact that the power elite can no longer hide anything from us, but we have to open our eyes and be willing to look at it. The outcome is not settled, and we can't give up, and we can't yet focus on the rebirth. We must focus first on Giving Death to the old ways. If we act quickly, we may be able to mitigate some of the pain of powering down as opposed to collapsing.

In the meantime, we must remember that we can only help others if we first take care of ourselves. We are reminded of this every time we fly when we get our emergency flight instructions before taking off: "Put your drop-down oxygen mask on first." In other words, give others the gift of your presence and wisdom in the new frontier....whatever that may look like.

Graham Nash and David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash,  like Roger Waters from Pink Floyd,  are part of the celebrity voices that are starting to speak out. Listen to what they have to say about the #Occupy Movement.

Gary and Anyaa live and work in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Gary's Book, "Awakening the New Masculine: The Path of the Integral Warrior," is scheduled for release in January 2012.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Integral Approach to Consciously Collapsing

Something is glaringly absent in the Integral Community. As I point out in the introduction of my 2011 book, Awakening The New Masculine: The Path of the Integral Warrior," here is the precipice humanity is teetering on:
 "Never before in human history has humankind been this close to a global psycho-social and spiritual awakening. At the same time, never have we been in such danger of being swept into a global totalitarianism, potentially more oppressive than any system known before. Technology, at the hands of little boys pretending to be men, has led us to this new geopolitical reality."
What's missing is paying attention to and addressing the biggest event that mankind has ever faced: Planetary Overshoot.  As a result of this obvious omission, couched in multiple perspectives of first-tier thinking and shadow, I find it difficult to to think of the Integral Community as...well...integral. Even what might be the first stage of second-tier thinking, Integral, or turquoise in Wilber's model of altitude, or yellow, in terms of Spiral Dynamics, with one of its primary focuses on competency,  lacks the compassion needed to empathize with the depth of pain that the coming changes are going to bring to the planet and the billions of people who will suffer through these times.

While the world, unions like the EU, nation states, and the people contained within these structures begin to feel the pain, and as things are speeding up, looking like a giant sink with the plug pulled with the accompanying whirlpool sucking everything down with it, the Integral Community seems to be mostly ignoring the bigger picture.

There are exceptions, but they are not really being paid attention to. As Andrew McDonald points out in a posting on Integral+Life, "......the integral world seems to be floating above this global problem emerging down there in the lower right quadrant. There are exceptions - Jim Garrison and Steve McIntosh for example and perhaps others - but there's an emphasis on theory out of step with the worry, concern, and genuine suffering in the economic downturn."

I agree completely with Andrew, but things don't just collapse in one quadrant. 

He also says, "Integral sometimes appears as if it's living on a plane that won't be directly affected personally by the implosion of the economy when and if that happens. Are most integralists wealthy or out of touch with where Main St. is. Or in denial of it?"

But collapse is not just financial, although that's where the focus seems to be. It's energy, environment, and economics, and they are all connected.

One of the responses to Andrew's thought-provoking questions was typical of the flawed new-age perspective of "The Secret" and the magical feel-good thinking that says we control our own reality that allows us to disassociate from the pain that's already going on in the world. This perspective is nothing more than an ego-centric worldview that says as long as I'm not suffering, the world is okay. I've said more about this in an earlier posting. What this response is actually saying is that it's someone else's problem (reality), not theirs, and is the kind of spiritual by-passing and up-and-out mentality that infects so many of us.

In stark contrast to what appears to be denial in the larger Integral Community (the denial is actually the fear of death), stands Spiral Dynamics integral, where discussion of what is happening in the world is not being ignored, but openly courted, and the prognosis is definitely leaning toward "some kind of collapse." It's clear that none of us have a crystal ball, but we can, and must, take a memetic approach and specifically tailor and apply our approach to collapse in all four quadrants.

At this time, green is seeing life conditions it cannot solve from it's level of consciousness (hence, the typical lack of a concise message from the Left). The new Republican Party, on the other hand, has a very absolutist approach to how they'd fix the problems we face. Both are reacting to problems they have helped to create. Given the ultra-polarized political environment in the U.S., it doesn't appear that collective second-tier solutions are going to happen.

With this in mind, how are we going to avoid an actual collapse as a result of planetary overshoot? Can we? How does a growing economic disaster impact climate change or energy needs? The news is not good, and it's out there for all to see if we're paying attention.

What second-tier should be doing

If we are going to be able to successfully navigate (whatever that means) the growing chaos, then we must first get out of denial and into acceptance that it's happening. Denial could kill you. This requires that we pay attention to what is actually happening in all four quadrants, in the interior, exterior, individual, and collective quadrants.

In the upper left quadrant - the quadrant of thoughts, emotions, state of mind, and human behavior - we must pay attention to our spiritual and emotional needs. We need to know how to step out of paralyzing fear. Using all four quadrants, determine what you think are the most likely scenarios, and then prepare for them the best you can, given your resources and abilities, and your awareness of what is arising in the other quadrants. This gives us the ability to step into calm acceptance, knowing that no matter how hard we may try, we can't possibly prepare for everything, and then let it go.

We do this in several ways. We find like-thinking others with whom we build community (lower left-quadrant), with shared values and meaning, who can support us as we support them. They don't need to be second-tier. We only need to have more that brings us together than separates us. In our newly forming community, "Conscious Transition WNC: A Network of Grace," we emphasize that we're not concerned about "why" collapse is happening - blame - but that it is happening, upon which we can all agree upon. In other words, we openly encourage - and insist - that everyone brings an openness that is accepting of all viewpoints. This allows multi-perspectivalism to develop, and this emerging process allows everyone to hear other viewpoints without having to defend their own. Community is an absolutely essential part of getting through whatever is coming. Otherwise, you're just a lone-wolf survivalist. Second-tier leadership provides the guidance and context that allows this to happen. Find and form your community.

We're also intensely aware of the geopolitics of collapse: what is happening, and how - the lower right and upper right quadrants, respectively. In the upper right, what is happening? The cold hard facts without interpretation. What can I see, touch, observe scientifically in time and space? What are the physical facts? We have to know because decisions need to be made based on those facts. For instance, watching what's going on in Europe at this time with banks and countries already collapsing gives us insight as to how it might unfold in the U.S. if the global financial markets are as connected as they appear to be. When should I think about withdrawing cash in case there are bank runs here as is already happening in Greece and Italy (and the U.S. as the wealthy flee with their money to what they think are safer havens)? 

In the lower right quadrant, how is it happening, what systems and networks are failing and in what time frame? How do they affect other systems? Technology? Government? Finance? Energy? The natural environment?

We simply must look at these issues through the 4-quadrant lens. As we've heard time and time again, anything less is partial, narrow, and fragmented....and there's already too much fragmentation in the world. That's what got us here. It won't get us out.

What then?

None of this guarantees that any of us will survive through what is coming. People don't want to hear that billions of people could die. Guess what? Millions are already dying and what do you need to see that will convince you that we don't have the capacity - energy and finances - or the political will to stop what is already happening? Collapse cannot be talked about in future tense, it's already happening.

What we can do is approach collapse in the most conscious manner possible. To be present to it as each moment arises, do what we can to improve how we come through this, however long it takes, and be more conscious individually and collectively than when we started. It's obvious that a lot of technology in the form of unbridled capitalism has not made our lives better. Maybe we'll be happier by getting smaller and living in the arms of gratitude. My sense is that it's by developing community, meaning, and sustainable systems that support all life on this planet. Maybe the way up is all the way down.

Where do the Integral leaders and community stand on collapse?