Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Same Old? - No More

That is the “promise” of President-elect Obama. From his searing address to America about race to his convincing election win on November 4, 2008 - Barack Obama has liberated the consciousness of not only Americans, but worldwide, so people no longer feel that they have to stay with the “same old.” I take it further in my new book “Failsafe.”

The melt down of financial institutions and the threat of Global Warming are indeed oppressive burdens – but they are not the problem. The problem is the underlying mindset that establishes the conditions for both of these crises to manifest. If we continue to focus only on Global Warming and financial meltdown, we remain caught by symptoms. They are the end result of a life-threatening malady – our individualistic, turbo-capitalist, consumerist, unsustainable and mindless patterns of living. The planet cannot sustain these patterns and its ecology is paramount, as economic systems are simply sub-systems of a much bigger entity – the environment. We have replaced the ecosphere with our own mental formations – making of it an egosphere. That which was Reverential has been turned into Referential. The mind that drives the pathology is the investigation of Failsafe. The book is blunt about the crises but optimistic!

Such optimism rests on our moving swiftly from a culture of greed to a culture of sustainability. Our greed is pathological. Our desires are not for items – just for more “desire.” The greed virus wrecks families, relationships and society. The notion that greed is good for the economy – inherent in many political and economic philosophies - is a gross fallacy, as greed demolishes equity and erodes freedom. Unfettered greed undermines all considerations of ethics, morality and social responsibility. The monster created – the culture of greed – has to be stopped in its tracks so we can reverse our direction. I draw on wise teachings about ecology and the mind. From the Buddha we have a science of mind and how to change it. From the Wisdom of the Elders we have clear guidelines for ecosystem balance that is hard wired into our brains due to the fact that 98% of our evolution was based on ecosystem balance as foragers. We have to learn how to re-access what we already know. It is a matter of organic gardening in the mind – to create a new consciousness by taming the mindset that propels us into mindless greed and its knock-on consequences. Barack Obama as President of the United States of America now opens the door for a new consciousness to express itself.

We must change our mindsets, have astute awareness about the consequences of our actions, all of which ripples through to future generations, enabling a sustainable earth culture to emerge. There is internal work to do. We come to a stop with the tools of meditation from different traditions, look deeply into our maladaptive patterns and throw them away. Being totally present, heart wide open is all that is required. I encourage everyone to take that leap into the realm of a Spiritual Warrior, as that is what our world now requires. No more small pictures of ourselves, no more egomaniacs posing as political and spiritual leaders – just spiritual warriors crossing racial, political and class boundaries, choosing to walk hand in hand through the early part of this century: to serve the planet; to be of benefit to all sentient beings.

This is my meditation for Gaia, a good reason for being on the planet at this time. I remain confident and optimistic about making the world a better place environmentally and socially, but I need your help. Take the steps to change your mind. Be bold and confident. Take care of the environment you inhabit and the environment you create. Begin it now.

Dr. Ian Prattis is Professor Emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada – peace and environmental activist, Zen teacher. He is the author of “Failsafe”

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