Archive for the ‘caring for the earth’ Category

Trump as the Shakespearean Fool

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Shakespeare loved inserting the character of a fool into his theatre, as a way of being entertaining and pointing out bluntly certain truths that other characters of higher standing wouldn’t reveal. His fool was usually a clever peasant who used his wits and spoke outside the codes of morality. Not believers in the supernatural, Shakespearean fools had no idealogy or regard for appearances, or for law, order or justice.

Doesn’t it sound like Donald Trump?

Since the function of the Shakespearean fool was to wake people up, I keep hoping that Trump is among us simply for that. The way that he presents himself and the things he says are so utterly grotesque that one advantage is he makes it clear what we don’t want.

Contrast seems to be a necessary force on this human plane. We seem to need to know what we do not want in order to know what we really desire. And so maybe Trump plays an important role, in that he reminds us how much we do not want a country ruled by prejudice, mysogeny, brute force and disregard for the tenderness of the human heart.

If the great playwright in the sky placed him here for the sake of contrast, then time is growing short for us to stop snoring in our theatre seats. We need to wake up to the real dangers this particular jester poses.

First, the Shakespearean fool does not see how ridiculous he is. Unlike a comic who is doing a routine, he is serious. In this case, that is scary.

Secondly, people are falling for this stuff. Everyone loves to watch a clown, but who wants one for President of the United States? I hope both Republicans and Democrats think about this.

Thirdly, the man is using his wits. So far, he is able to live up to his name. He has trumped the pundits and kept on gathering steam, even while chalking up more and more hideous statements. In our culture, we may have reached a new low where entertainment actually trumps the dreams of our forefathers. Where is liberty, freedom and justice? “Winning” seems to trump these.

Before she died, my mother said through her morphine fog that “It’s all a play, and we are just playing our parts.” Let’s remember what part Donald Trump is playing and take a look at what we want to happen in the last act. Please.

My friend Richard Kimball, founder of Project Vote Smart (http://www.votesmart.org) recently wrote a letter in which he cited some depressing studies showing that candidates who lie most outrageously capture headlines and get the highest poll numbers.

To make it worse, other studies showed that people rarely change their minds when confronted by facts, and that they’d rather listen to a politician who will tell them whom to hate than one who tells them the truth.

Now that is not funny.

If you were in the audience watching a play about this, what would you hope the most powerful characters would do? Will they wake up? Will they act in behalf of the greater good? Or will they be trumped by the fool, who will end up with a crown on his head?

 

This post has also been sent to Huffington Post and can be seen at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-hale/.

 

Is the Divine Feminine Working on Wall Street?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

woman in market

Seeing the global markets tumble is as unnerving as an earthquake. Beyond questions like, “Will I be able to retire?” and other understandable, personal fears, lie other more global and cosmic ones.

We’ve long suspected that the current way of running the world is not sustainable. And we know that if something isn’t sustainable, it won’t be long before it begins to crumble. We’ve seen institutions and systems crumbling all around us. With them,  we can watch the crumbling of our illusions that the very ground beneath us and the climate around us are stable.

One way to frame this is to say that the energy responsible for the trouble we’re in is the energy of the wounded masculine. The predatory, win-at-all-costs, short-term way of “winning” through force, oppression and marginalization is the masculine in its most harmful form.

Like the masculine, the energy of the feminine has many forms. She is responsible for birth, but also death. Her realm is all matter and the passages it goes through: from seed to flowering, to dissolution, to decay, to rebirth. And so in many traditions, she has both a creative and a fierce aspect.

She is sometimes Kali, who wears the necklace of skulls. She roars onto the battlefield with a sword and cuts off heads of everything false. With the dead bodies strewn around her, she calmly sits down to nurse her baby.

In western culture, images like this one disturb most people.  When I traveled in Nepal, I saw shrines to the Divine Feminine in her fierce form everywhere. In the midst of the marketplace, many of them were covered with filth, and then strewn with flowers. They were honored just as they were, right in the center of human activity. They were not neat or pristine or protected. Many of them were destroyed in the earthquake. They are icons of the Hindu faith in the process of death and rebirth, the faith in destruction of the false as a path.

And so I look at this photo I took of a Nepalese woman in the marketplace of a little mountain village, and I wonder some things. How did she survive the earthquake? Can she still farm her vegetables and support her family? How well is the world and the marketplace supporting her? Is her faith sustaining her?

She is a reminder to me as I glance at the paper or hear the frantic debates in the media. What would be the saving grace of the Divine Feminine in this situation? What are the falsehoods the fierce feminine would destroy? What is trying to be born?

We know that our economy is largely built on a house of cards that is too false to be sustained. Our own welfare is complicated. We are in debt to the Chinese, and everyone is in debt to someone else. So the falsehood of the “dollar” will collapse at some point.

And what is trying to be born? Wall Street may be the most difficult arena for this, but the Divine Feminine in her Creative aspect is a birther, a nurturer. She is at the heart of Creation, and is the heart of Compassion.

And so as she works on Wall Street, she might be seeding a question: what would a compassionate economic system look like? What would truth look like translated into economic terms? It’s time to consider these questions.

Those men and women who are devoted to the Divine Feminine within us all can be devoted now to her re-emergence in the world. She is surely at work in the massive shift we are experiencing. Let us take a stand for her. Surely that could be the revolution that could save us all.

Pele Speaks

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Pele speaks

I’ve decided to renew my relationship with my art, and so I’m sharing this first piece in a new series called Messages from the Mother.

At various times I become aware that my photographs are pretty, but don’t speak to the whole of my awareness–especially in areas that don’t look as pretty! This has happened lately with my aerial photos. I love flying over the earth and always celebrate the beauty that is revealed from above, especially in areas otherwise inaccessible. It feels like such a privilege to be able to fly over uninhabited land, and to study Mother Earth’s contours and colors and patterns.

And…there is more to discuss.

We are all painfully aware of the mess we have found ourselves in regarding our relationship with the Mother. I heard the other day that some experts are saying we have already crossed that tipping point where we could have reversed the damage. Certain species, phenomena and levels of comfort may already be out of our reach. And we have no one else to blame.

And so lately when I fly with my husband over the body of the Mother, I wonder what messages she is sending. What do my own pretty photos of her suggest to me? If she were to speak, what would she say?

Wondering this, I wandered to the desk where I occasionally do art, and opened the drawer. There was a postcard I bought in Hawaii, with a picture of Pele. She is a force in the islands, particularly on the Big Island, where she resides in volcanic splendor, occasionally erupting in seeming fury, destroying everything within her reach.

Amazed at the serendipity, I took the postcard over to my framed photo of the Painted Desert in Arizona. The colors matched perfectly, and so did streaks of light on the postcard and the photo. Meant to be, I figured. I unframed the photo and began my new series.

The large white piece of paper with the black curved form is a scan I saved from my breast cancer treatment. Pele might be saying she needs treatment from the cancer she is suffering from–due to our incessant, unstoppable consumption of her resources.

The two orange circles are photographic records of the emissions of stars. Pele might be reminding me that we are part of a large system–a universe that is interdependent, and still largely mysterious to us. When we remember this, our hubris softens.

The graphs below the star images are records of temperatures in different areas of our country. We know weather is wild now, and we know as the climate changes, so must we.

Below Pele’s face are a weather map from the newspaper, a New York Times photo of the California drought and a report of storms that soaked the plains in a surprise flooding spring rain. “What do you expect?” I hear Pele wondering.

Now, with the re-framed piece on my wall, the beauty of the Painted Desert is more poignant, more bittersweet. Pele is reminding me to change my ways. To learn to live with less water, less possessions, less meat, less waste, less entitlement.

How do I feel about her messages? Of course they are sobering, but they are not new information. So I am grateful that she is working her way into me, into my heart, my thoughts, my body and my actions. I am only one person, but so are you. And how we respond to this gorgeous earth and her needs will determine everything about our future.

 

A Hopi Feast

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

IMG_7131_2

I am still digesting a precious, bountiful and nutritious feast that has fed me in ways I can’t yet articulate well. In future blogs, maybe I’ll find more words to describe what I’ve gained from the spiritual travel to Hopi land with Carla Woody, spiritual mentor and founder of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and sharing indigenous wisdom. (kenosis.net) For the moment, Let me share with you the visible elements on this bountiful table.

On a literal level, this feast was prepared for us by Charlene Joseph, a Hopi woman from the village of Moenkopi. We were welcomed into her home to learn about the Hopi way of life, which is all about Spirit. Perhaps you can’t see Spirit in the photograph, but it is the major ingredient–the primary flavor in every event, every “dish” that is part of her family’s life.

This feast is a tradition the morning after the night Kachina dances, which we were privileged to attend. Char’s husband, Harold Joseph, is a leader in his clan and has successfully negotiated many improvements contributing to Hopi life. He generously shared with us the elements of spiritual life that can be shared, since some practices and beliefs are kept within the hearts and minds of the men who lead the kiva ceremonies at the center of the traditional Hopi way.

The big bowls contain the traditional hominy stew that Char began making the day before, along with yeast rolls that the women in our group helped make. My husband Jon loved the fried dried red chilis, as well as the fresh green ones, since nothing is too spicy for him. I especially loved the tiny tamales tied in a traditional form and made by Char and Harold’s daughter, who took some into the kiva with the other unmarried girls who dressed up to take the dancers special food and have privileged seating within the kiva.

Another platter contains piki bread, which unmarried women make for their puberty ceremony. It is very thin sheets–almost like filo dough–that they process on a stone tablet, as has been done for centuries.

Having been fortunate enough to travel far from home and to learn from many cultures older than our American one, it struck me again that the ancient Hopi culture is right here in my own back yard. It is an island surrounded by Navajo lands, east of the Grand Canyon. But from my immersion in Hopi ways for a short week, I feel I’ve been far away, out of space and time. I’ve been nourishing myself from the generous table of Native people willing to share a way of life that is inspiring, courageous, and an example for us all.

As I digest and integrate my learnings, I’ll be sharing with you some of the “translations” from the Hopi world to the one  the majority of us inhabit. There are adjustments and commitments we can all make that could align us more directly with Spirit, help us avoid some of the potential disasters Hopi people warn us about, and support us as we attempt to live out the kind of truth that can change our lives and perhaps even save the world.

Gross National Happiness

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Bhutan

I had the privilege of traveling to the little kingdom of Bhutan recently, and one of the many gifts I received from that visit was the inspiration to spread the word about GNH. For Bhutan’s policy-making is guided not by the GNP (Gross National Product) but by GNH–Gross National Happiness.

It’s more than just a cute-sounding idea. There are documents outlining the four pillars, nine domains, and metrics for weighing and measuring progress. (http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/) This little country of only 750,000 people is a model for a self-chosen set of values based on something we all chase: no, it’s not money; it’s happiness!

Thanks to our trip organizer, Narayan Shrestha (founder of the non-profit, Helping Hands), we were privileged to have a private dinner with the mayor of Thimpu, the national capital. Kinlay Dorjee seems humble, sincere, and clearly devoted to increasing the GNH in the capital and throughout the country. He spent some time introducing us to the four pillars, which are:

1.  Good governance

2.  Equitable and sustainable socio-economic development

3. Preservation and promotion of cultural heritage

4. Preservation and promotion of the environment

Pretty wonderful measures for policy-making, right? Let me backtrack to the inspiring back story.

In the 1970’s His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck observed that economic growth had become the measure of growth and success across the world and at both collective and personal levels. Given the costs we are paying for this ideology, this enlightened king decided he would focus on a different set of values.

He came up with GNH, based on the belief that collective happiness of a society is the ultimate goal of governance. His legacy to his son, the current fifth King Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck, was the job of creating an operational framework for the growth of GNH in his country.

Finding that the four pillars were not complete enough, the Royal Government of Bhutan initiated the Good Government Plus (GG+) in 2005. Then the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research worked on indicators that now classify the values into nine domains. They are:

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Health
  • Education
  • Time use
  • Cultural diversity and resilience
  • Community vitality
  • Good governance
  • Ecology
  • Living standards

Can you imagine a day when your government might ask if these nine domains are being addressed before deciding on a policy? For example, what if deciding on a policy for immigration involved asking, “What policy will increase cultural diversity and resilience?”

Can you imagine a day when corporate boards and executives might ask themselves how happy they and their employees and customers are, using these nine domains? How are corporate policies affecting the health domain, for instance?

And can you imagine a day when you might ask yourself if the decisions you’re making in your own life are taking these nine domains into consideration? Is that decision you’re considering going to affect the ecology of the planet? Your relationship to ecology will actually affect your happiness.

Some evidence I saw that these measures are working in Bhutan: the clean, sparkling rivers, which were like something out of a dream. Plastic bags are illegal; stores give out fiber bags. Tobacco is illegal and you cannot bring it into the country. People wear traditional dress–the men wear elegant robes over dark or argyle socks and dark shoes. The women wear lovely long skirts topped by jackets with a shawl collar often in a contrasting color. There is only a small military presence. Buddhist temples and other historical and cultural sites are beautifully preserved, and prayer flags fly everywhere there is a holy site or particularly stunning view.

Of course the country still faces challenges. But I was struck by the spiritual underpinning or energy, if you will, that was palpable everywhere. I felt an air of kindness, an atmosphere of reflection, an attitude of appreciation. This doesn’t stem from isolation; even monks were talking on cell phones. But it felt as if people had it straight that technology was not the end point. What they’re after is working with nature and with our own gifts, promoting what every human longs for: happiness.

 

 

 

Monday, March 14th, 2011

What form or figure do you see in this photograph? Yes, it’s just sand and pieces of seaweed. And no, I did not arrange them. Nature did!

Some people see a flower. Others see a pregnant woman. I always see an archer, whose bow is drawn, the arrow ready to fly. All the answers are RIGHT! What you see is the whole point of the Sand Spirits.

Today this image speaks to me of focused intention. The archer concentrates and narrows her view to the target, asking her body and mind to focus on directing her energy and her arrow in exactly that direction. We can do this.

I’ll give an example taken from a blog I just read by coach and author, Cheryl Richardson. She pointed out that we have a choice of how to react to the tragedy in Japan. She suggests that every time we think of the pain and suffering, we do the following: open your heart and imagine a stream of loving, healing energy flowing out of your heart, all the way to Japan. See the energy flowing all over the country, enveloping everyone and everything.

Now, remember that we are in the midst of great change on the planet, and so pain and suffering will probably persist and even intensify. How will we handle it over time? There are many ways, but the question is, how can we serve others?

We can serve best not by adding to the negative energy, but by forming a positive intention to pray or send love and healing to those who suffer. We can do this by contributing money, by volunteering and by being like the archer, focused on sending our best and highest energy right to the target.

We can continue to feel compassion for all who suffer without being overwhelmed so that our lights are dimmed. Instead we can be disciplined and while we feel compassion we can act as healers of the planet.

Thank you to Sand Spirit #6!

A Message from the Sea

Friday, June 4th, 2010

This is Sand Spirit Insight Card #26.  I “drew” it for today by just picking a number and clicking on it without knowing which image would come up. This one has morphed over time. I used to see a woman in it, offering a gift to the heavens. I still can see her today, but more often now I see a face of a male figure who appears to be a wizard. He tells me he can see the invisible, see below the surface. He is warning us about the necessity for humankind to move away from the personal and the ego into the realm of greater consciousness and responsibility to the earth. He is talking about the tragedy of the oil spill as the most recent example. His left eye (his more feminine or intuitive side, connected to his right brain) is his more active eye. His right eye is focused on the heavens. This is his doing side, and he has surrendered to divine guidance for all his decision-making.

This is serious stuff, but how else can we respond to all that is happening now?  A volcano erupts in Guatemala, followed by floods and the appearance of a giant sinkhole in the capital. Oil threatens our ocean, our sea animals and a whole way of life on the southern coast. Whatever actions we must take, this looks like the time to begin them.

The card I drew coincides with my finishing Craig Hamilton’s course in integral enlightenment and moving beyond the ego. The shift we must make requires a new kind of effort–one that begins with surrender to forces greater than ourselves. We live within the Great Mystery, and it looks like it’s time to respect it again.

How will we each begin?