The Wake-Up Call

April 25th, 2009

The ancient Chinese symbol for crisis, wei-chi, combines two elements: danger and opportunity. The danger is that if one continues to pursue approaches that are no longer working, then disaster is imminent. The opportunity is to let go of the old patterns and find new ways of being that unleash new, and possibly unforeseen, potentials.

The many global crises we are now facing are symptomatic of set of values and mode of thinking that is no longer working. Our tools and technologies have given us unprecedented control of the world around us. We have thus fallen into the trap of believing that the path to human fulfillment lies in manipulating the world us, manufacturing ever more things, and so creating ever more waste. This is clearly no longer working. Over consumption of resources and unbridled pollution of the oceans, atmosphere and soil are now threatening human civilization, if not humanity itself.

This approach also no longer works on an individual level. Despite all our burgeoning material comforts people as a whole are no happier than they were fifty years ago. The need to feel in control of events leads to greed, anxiety and fear, states of mind which, by their very nature, take us away from the peace and fulfillment we truly seek.

Many in the past have seen through the illusion that fulfillment comes from what we have and do. We call them the wise ones, the liberated, the enlightened. These are people who have discovered a deeper meaning to life, an inner joy that is not dependent on circumstances, and a compassion that leads to care for other beings. Such people are often revered as saints, yet there is nothing special about them — apart from the fact that they have woken up from the dream in which the rest of us live. They hold the key to our future. A world in which we can live together, free from unnecessary fear, and in harmony with our surroundings.

Our various crises are pushing us towards this shift in consciousness, calling us to a collective awakening, and to a world governed by wisdom and compassion rather than greed and fear. The time to make wake up is now. The danger is too immense to risk. The opportunity is too good to miss.


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Running Dry

March 26th, 2009

California.

They call it the Golden state. The IT capital of the world. Were it a nation it would be the seventh most prosperous in the world. But all that may be about to change.

Few will have failed to notice that the winter rains were down—again. Reservoirs are below 50% capacity. This time last year they were around 60%, and the year before, around 80%  Is this a pattern? The result of climate change? Who knows? But if the trend continues, then this time next year they will be only 30% full. And in 2011, the state starts running dry.

By then the disaster will be upon us. One third of US fruit and vegetables are grown in the central valley (consuming 85% of the state’s water). Already, 2009 food production is in serious trouble. Industry also needs the water. So do people. As rationing takes its bite, all sectors will be hit hard. (Even now farm workers are protesting – http://bit.ly/11euN7 )

California is, in its natural state, mostly desert. With hundreds of dams and numerous waterways, we’ve created fertile regions—farms, cities, communities. But if the trend continues… Paint your own picture of how that pans out. An unprecedented catastrophe waiting in the wings.

I have no idea if the rain will fall short again next year, or the year after. At a guess, I’d give it a 50/50 chance.

The one thing we cannot afford not to do is ignore a 50% chance of a socio-economic catastrophe.

The graph below shows the accumulated data for the five largest reservoirs in California for the last 4 years.


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A Meditation for Air Travellers

November 18th, 2008

Airplanes would be an ideal place to meditate—nothing to do, lots of spare time to relax—except for one thing; all the noise and bustle going on around you. In that respect, an airplane might seem the worst place to meditate.

To make meditating in a plane both easy and enjoyable I have recorded a basic 15-minute meditation practice in a form that takes into account all that is going on in a plane. Download it, transfer it your iPod, or other mp3 player, and take it with you on your next flight. You will arrive more relaxed and refreshed.

http://www.peterrussell.com/Meditation/PlaneMed.php


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Swim with whales – Tahiti – Sept 2009

November 13th, 2008

Come swim with humpback whales and their new calves in the pristine clear waters of Polynesia.

Each year, from July to October, South Pacific humpback whales come to this spot to give birth. September is the best month to be with them, when the new calves are old enough to venture close.

Each day, we will take boats out to the whales. Following their invitations, we slip gently into the water, move away from the boat and wait for them to join us. It is always their choice.

We will be swimming close to the gentle whales, floating quietly among them and their young, looking deeply into their eyes, receiving their wisdom. It is a profound experience available to the few people who have a spiritual connection to the dolphins and whales.

It is the opportunity of a lifetime in a very special place with beautiful sandy beaches and coral caves. Everyone will have a magnificent time.

Limited Space: Due to limited space on the boats, only 10 people can attend this seminar, and it is likely to fill quickly. So if you plan to come, book soon to avoid disappointment.

Accommodation: We will be a remote island about 300 miles from Tahiti, staying in a local Lodge — in spacious Tahitian bungalows. All rooms are double occupancy, there are no single rooms.

Cost: US $2995 per person for 7 days (6 nights).
(The Polynesian franc is high against the dollar, raising costs in this country.)

More info – http://www.peterussell.com/Dolphin/whales.php


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Waiting Is

May 21st, 2008

“Waiting Is”—a phrase immortalized in Robert Heinlein’s celebrated sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

For most of us waiting is not easy, often a bore. Waiting for a bus or train, we look for something to do to pass the time. Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, we idle away the minutes thumbing through magazines of no particular interest.

We want the waiting to be over with, so that we can get on with whatever is the next task at hand. Yet in treating waiting this way, we deny ourselves a most valuable opportunity.

Pure waiting, not waiting for any event to happen, just waiting without wanting, can be a profound spiritual practice.

When you simply wait, not waiting for anything in particular, not wishing things were different than than they are, the mind relaxes. And, as you let go of wanting, you will probably find your awareness of the present moment expanding.

Many, from Buddha to Ram Dass and Eckart Tolle, have encouraged us to be more aware of the present, to “be here, now”. And numerous practices aim to help us become more aware of the present. Most, however, lead to focussing of the attention on some aspect of the present—the breath, a visual object, a mantra. The focus may be effortless, nevertheless it is there, a very faint directing of the attention.

With pure waiting, on the other hand, there is no attempt to be aware of any particular aspect of the present. Instead, with nothing to do, no particular thing to wait for, there is space for more of the present to reveal itself. We begin to notice aspects of our world we were not aware of before—the sound of a clock, or a distant conversation; a tree gently waving in the breeze; the touch of clothes against the skin. It does not matter what. It will probably be different every time, simply because the present is different from one moment to the next.

As you get the hang of simply waiting, you will find yourself being present in a relaxed, innocent, undirected way.

So the next time you have to wait for something, use the time as an opportunity to become more awake. Instead of waiting for that something, simply wait. No expectations. Simply stopping, and waiting, with an open mind.

Nor do we need to wait for a late bus or be sitting in a “waiting room” before we can practice waiting. Any moment of the day we can choose to pause for a while and simply wait.

Waiting without expectation for whatever is next. Maybe a bird flies past the window. Perhaps the refrigerator starts up. Or we find we have wandered off on some thought. It doesn’t matter. Waiting is.

You can start right now. Pause. Take a breath. Relax… And wait…


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The Food Crisis

April 16th, 2008

We have heard plenty about the dangers of peak oil, global warming, banking meltdowns, and global pandemics, but the most critical crisis of all, that of food, looms largely unnoticed.

When we have thought about a food crisis it has usually been in terms of there not being enough food. But in recent times a new specter has raised its head. The food is there, but the price of food is rising so fast that the world’s poor can no longer afford it. They can no longer afford the most basic commodity of life.

In the last three years, the global food prices have doubled. The fastest rises have been in the staple cereals. In the last year (2007), the price of corn went up by 30%, rice by 74%, soya by 87%, and wheat by 130%. The people most hit by such increases are the world’s poor. Some have to spend 80% of their income on food. What happens when they have to pay even more? The answer is beginning to hit the news—food riots in Haiti, strikes and protests in Egypt, 30 million in Bangladesh at risk of starvation.

There are several reasons for the rise in food prices. The most basic is supply and demand. Increasing numbers to feed without similar increases in supply, pushes up prices. Higher oil prices mean higher food production costs—farm equipment, fertilizers, and transport. Droughts in major wheat producing areas such as Australia and Kazakhstan have had major impact on supply. As growing numbers in India and China rise out of poverty, diets change. Hundreds of millions of people are wanting to eat more meat and dairy products; yet producing one pound of beef takes ten times that amount of grain, forcing the price of staple foods even higher.

Added to these, there is the crazy idea of alleviating global warning by growing biofuels. Leaving aside the question of whether this does or does not result in a net reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide, every hectare of farmland given over to growing biofuels, is a hectare not growing food. To think that growing food for cars should take precedent over growing food for people shows just how crazy some people have become. Those governments, such as the USA and UK,  who have jumped on the biofuel bandwagon are about to have a very rude awakening as the food crisis begins to take center stage.

What can be done? The factors pushing food prices higher are here to stay (for a good while at least). The impact on the world’s poor (and soon, the not so poor) will increase. More and more people will not be able to afford to eat, or not afford much else. Instead of rising out of poverty they will sink back in. Increasingly, the problem will be seen as economic; the food is there, it just costs too much.

We are heading inexorably towards a time when the nations of the developed countries will have to subsidize the food of the world’s poor. Right wing conservatives in the US baulk at the idea of social welfare in their own country, and without large numbers dying of starvation in the USA they can get away with that, but when the world’s media shows food price riots across the world, and people starving by the millions. attitudes will begin to shift. The laissez-faire free market ideology that lies beneath rising food prices will have to be overridden. In its place—as far as food goes at least—we will have to move towards a form of global social welfare. Anathema as that may be to some.


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Greenhouse Cost of Beef

September 15th, 2007

Offset your driving by becoming a vegetarian!

A study by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan, showed that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide. That is about the same as driving the average European car for 250 kilometres. The production also consumes enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Over two-thirds of the energy goes towards producing and transporting the animals’ feed. The calculations did not include the impact of managing farm infrastructure and transporting the meat, so the total environmental load is higher than the study suggests.

(Animal Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2007.00457.x).


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The Art of Letting Go – Double CD

July 15th, 2007

“Just let go” we are often told, yet letting go never seems easy. This is often because we treat it as something we need to do; but letting go is an “undoing”, a releasing of the “holding on.”

The first CD explores: The nature of attachment and non-attachment. Inner freedom as the freedom to choose how we see the world. The nature of the real Self, essential being. The natural wisdom of the Self, and how to use it for guidance. it takes listeners through an exercise designed to help them let go of a fixed way of seeing a situation, allowing new perspectives to reveal themselves. By letting go of resistance, we can find relief and compassion.

The second CD contains instruction in a basic meditation practice that allows us to become fully aware of the present moment.. The emphasis is on complete effortlessness.

This is followed by a second meditation using the guidance of our inner knowing to deepen meditation and open to an even greater ease in being present.

See Link on Home Page – www.peterussell.com


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Usury—The Root of All Evil?

July 8th, 2007

Charging interest on a loan is so intrinsic to our economic system that few of us ever question it. Yet usury—as the practice is called—has been banned, at one time or another, by just about every religion. Not only does make the rich richer, and the poor poorer—with all the social tensions that engenders. It exacerbates some of the most critical problems of our time, and is fueling the global crisis.

Full article on site: http://www.peterussell.com/SP/Usury.php


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Loving Your True Self

July 1st, 2007

Love your self. It’s a common refrain.

One way to interpret this is loving who you are—accepting yourself just as you are, warts and all; having compassion for your shortfalls, while rejoicing in your gifts. Loving ourselves in this way relieves us of much self-judgment and self-criticism.

We can also love ourselves at a deeper emotional level. We can take that feeling of love, which dwells in our hearts, the feeling that we often connect with loving someone else, and allow it to flow towards ourselves. In this case we are not loving our manifest selves, with all their various qualities, we are simply experiencing love for our self. Culturing such feelings of self-love brings deep ease and relief.

Beneath this individual self there is what some traditions call the “true self.” Others call it the pure self, the unconditioned self, the universal self, no-self, essence, pure being, or true nature. It is that which is always there whatever our experience. It is the essence of what we call “I”—something so familiar and personal, and yet on deeper inspection totally impersonal, without any qualities or character. It is the pure am-ness that we know when the thinking mind becomes still, and we rest in primordial awareness.

The taste of this essential self is delicious. Mystics have written volumes of poetry about its blissful nature. Enlightened ones have urged us to discover it, and to soak in the calm and joy it brings. Knowing this true self is so delightful we don’t need to develop or culture love for it. We cannot help but be in love it with it.


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