Occupy movement will fail without paradigm shift

For years I have wondered how we can achieve the positive future envisioned by Gene Roddenberry. So many elements of that future have come true — from wireless phones to iPads and even some medical procedures — books and college courses on the “science” of Star Trek abound.  But  Roddenberry’s societal vision of the future, in which money and its problems have been eliminated, elude us.  His vision of peace, prosperity, intelligence, and sanity reigning on an Earth that has recovered its environmental health seems much further away. The idea of humankind rising to a place of honor, wisdom and leadership amongst other beings in the galaxy, and an overriding respect of all life as the “Prime Directive,” seems far away.  He painted the picture of that positive future so beautifully, so concretely, you can just taste it. How on earth can we get there?

Could the “Occupy” movement possibly bring us towards a more idyllic, Star-Trek-like future?

I believe it is definitely possible. However, I predict that the Occupy  movement will have little to no effect on the status quo without a major paradigm shift, internally, in a critical number of people, away from the addictive egocentricism that characterizes the modern post-industrial collective American psyche.  Yet, with the rise of social media,  the possibility for such a paradigm shift has never been more real.

For the Occupy movement to truly have an impact, what is needed is a radical redefinition of the concept of “bottom line.”  So long as individuals seek happiness and center their lives outside of themselves, OUT THERE in the world, around material wealth, money, and profit, the movement will have no power to reform. Until mass numbers of individuals wake up to the inherent insanity of identification with THINGS, and particularly with the incessant counting of pieces of paper, round shiny bits of metal, sparkly stones, numbers on a screen, or any other objects, as a way of determining identity and value — all the protests in the world will not make a bit of difference. In fact, I predict that we simply will trade one corrupt group for another. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” We are seeing that already in the Arab world, sadly.

Given the power imbalance that already exists today, the current Occupy movement at best may succeed at changing a few laws. They likely will lead to violence, revolution, and even regime change. But without internal, personal revelation on a mass scale, inward, the movement will fail to address the fundamental flaw that undergirds our entire global economic and psychological system: addictive egoic identification to form.

For genuine and lasting reform, we have to recognize the real bottom-line truth: we are all addicted to the erroneous belief that we are the sum of our bank accounts, our cars, our homes, our possessions, our material lives.  And that we need “stuff” to be happy.  None of that is actually true. We need to admit that so long as we’re driving or flying anywhere, burning fossil fuel, wearing clothing made in sweat shops or sneakers padded with rain forest rubber or synthetic plastic, eating food that’s been shipped from the other side of the world — we are  interconnected to Wall Street, and are fueling the problem. We are as addicted to the false belief as the billionaire execs themselves. The only way for reform to make a difference is to take a long hard look in the mirror, look inside, and admit our addiction.

Genuine and lasting reform is not going to happen on Wall Street, in Washington, in state capitols, or even on Main Street–without this healing from our personal addiction. There is only one place, one direction of change that will make a true difference in the world out there: it is what the Native Americans called the 7th direction — within, internally, at home. It is what the Christian mystics call “metanoia” — changing our minds, turning towards the light of God within. It is the true definition of repentance, the true message of the voice on the wind of the Forerunner, St. John the Baptist.

From executives to shareholders to individuals living and now unemployed on Main Street, regardless of class, color, religious affiliation, or creed–reform can occur only when a critical mass of humanity can genuinely free themselves from the illusory Matrix-like rat-race we’ve all agreed to believe exists. Reform can occur when we stop looking to dollar bills to define ourselves and see instead the spark of the divine within ourselves and our neighbors, and see these pieces of paper as simply tools that work when they flow freely where needed, not to be held and hoarded in fear.  That will be when the possibility of a Star-Trek-like future can occur. By genuinely turning to the Source of All, the Light that is the spark of creation, passed down from our ancestors that lives and shines within each one us — we invite Grace into our lives. It is that amazing Grace that sets us free — free of all fear.  Fear of loss, fear of lack, fear of anything.  Only then can the dream, the vision, that all of us dare hope, can be real. A future of genuine and lasting peace, true prosperity, without war or disease.

Just as Steve Jobs demonstrated with his brilliant Apple products, it is absolutely  possible for one person, with vision and dedication, to transform the world for the better.  I believe that if just 1% of the population can achieve genuine freedom from addictive egoic attachment, can achieve genuine metanoia, union with The Light within, they will affect a cascade paradigm shift in the other 99%.

How to do it??  As with kicking any addiction, the only way to succeed is to admit our addiction to egoic attachment to form, through a 12 Step Program. Call it Egoic Attachments Anonymous, or EAA.

  • Step 1.  We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7.  Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10.  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
  • Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

Has there ever been a civilization —  a successful civilization — that had no addictive egoic attachment to form?  Yes. I can think of two.  Both the early Christian Byzantine empire which thrived for nearly 1000 years, and the pre-colonial indigenous cultures of North America, which thrived on the continent for tens of thousands of years, possessed belief systems that 1) did not recognize or significantly downplayed the concept of personal property  2) had well-developed systems that bestowed social value and political power based on humility and selflessness 3) valued freedom and free will as a divine gift and right of all of creation, and 4) recognized the spiritual truth of our interconnectedness to each other, and to a benevolent and loving God who provides all we need.

As it says in the Bible, the way to discern good from evil is by its fruits. These civilizations yielded many fruits. In the case of the indigenous North Americans, they thrived on the continent for hundreds of generations without damaging the environment, without overpopulating, without destroying the natural balance which causes dis-ease, and without prolonged and damaging wars. Sporting a functional system of shared political power across 5 nations, some even inspired the work of founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and others in designing our Bill of Rights and bicameral triune system of government. The many diverse yet interconnected cultures which communicated and traded effectively from one end of the continent to the other, endured continuously longer than that of any European culture, or even the habitation of the British Isles — with very little war, with preservation and sharing of natural resources, with respect of the rights of women and children, and with very little disease.

As for the Byzantine empire, a tiny piece of it still exists to this day, operating on its own clock and calendar, cut off from the world, on a very very remote penninsula, which has belonged to the Theotokos, the Mother of God, since the day she set foot on it, nearly 2000 years ago.  Called Mt. Athos, it has been called a veritable “saint factory,” producing modern-day wonderworking saints with all the miraculous healing powers of Christ God Himself. Recently profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Mt. Athos remains a haven for the practice of pure indigenous Christianity, and is revitalizing monastacism and Christianity in other parts of the world, including in the United States. (See link below.)

Today, we are living in a dystopian world, an imaginary place where people lead increasingly dehumanized and often fearful lives. Gene Roddenberry painted a fabulous picture of an opposite possible future — a utopian world, in which the love of power has been replaced by the power of love–love of truth, all life, and good for all.  A Course In Miracles says there is only one problem and only one solution in all the world. The problem is the perception of separation from the Divine, from God, within.  The solution is to remove the blocks to the awareness of the spark of Divine within ourselves, of God’s eternal presence within us all and in the world. One can only hope that through the gift of social media, a critical mass of people inspired by the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring,  will turn within to seek the power to free themselves from the mass addiction, the mass delusion,  that they in any way derive their identity from things. It will be in this way, that we can call into our lives healing from this addiction,  that we can last at last find true freedom, and become the sentient, intelligent, wise race we have the potential to become. And which Roddenberry so clearly envisioned.

The paradigm shift is to move from our “bottom-line” mentality from looking at “things out there”  to looking at thing “inside” ourselves.  To succeed at true and lasting transformation to a better world, we need to occupy ourselves.

References/Resources for occupying ourselves:

Mt. Athos Special on CBS 60 Minutes, about the living remnant of the Christian Byzantine empire, unattached to material form
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, which explores the egoic attachment to form
A Course In Miracles including Workbook of 365 short daily lessons on removing the blocks to awareness of God’s presence
From I-Ville to You-Ville  a great childrens chapter book on keeping the ego small

Angels, demons and ghosts in the machine

Did you ever have the experience while working on your computer, of merging with its programs?

Years ago when I used to spend hours creating colorful images and animations, going timeless playing with the animated brushes and amazingly fun tools of DeluxePaint on an Amiga, there were times when the software would execute a command I was thinking, as I thought it. Before I could move my hand and mouse to pick a new brush, for example, the computer would select it. It was always amazing, and it happened many times, not just to me, but also to my artist husband as he painted on the Amiga. We both experienced the synchronization or merging of our minds with the software. In the years since the Amiga died, it has happened to me only once, when I was creating a complex layout with QuarkXpress on the Mac, that I was able to attain that creative flow state of mind and merge with the machine. I wonder – has it ever happened to you?

Our nerve cells, and the biggest collection of nerve cells, our brains, generate and are enveloped in dynamic electrical energy fields that vibrate at specific rates. The fields extend out from our bodies to merge with each other, and with our machines, which also possess electrical fields. In more than 20 years working with computers, besides this “merging” experience, I have also had the distinct feeling that there truly can be “ghosts” in the machine–and angels.

On many occasions I’ve been in a negative, distracted, agitated state of mind, and when I sit down at the computer to work, the machine crashes. Through experience I have learned that when such crashes happen, I need to close my eyes, take a deep breath to calm my thoughts and slow down my mind, to take charge of my energy, and to enter into a more positive state. And then, amazingly, the machine responds, functioning properly. I know individuals whose energy patterns routinely seem to cause computers or even other kinds of equipment to fail when they come into physical contact.

Similarly I have learned that if I am faced with a difficult, emotionally challenging experience with people, whether it is public speaking or meeting with a difficult individual, that if I close my eyes, focus on slowing my breath, and say a prayer beforehand, the outcome will be much easier and more successful. Years ago I used to practice affirmations, repeating a positive thought or idea to myself. That definitely helped, but I have found that taking a few deep breaths, centering my attention inward, and then acknowledging a higher power, asking for help and guidance–in essence, praying–is actually much more effective.

I have also had the experience of what I feels like an entirely independent “presence,” working through the machine.  For example,  I went through a period several years ago when I struggled with a negative mind state; for whatever reason, my ego was feeling threatened, my thoughts were replaying memories evoking very negative emotions of anger or fear. I felt defensive, hurt, victimized.  Usually this would be at night before going to bed. Compulsively, I would compose and send an email, to the relative or friend whom I love but who was the target of my current negative emotions. Then in the middle of the night I would wake up remorseful, even panicked, my conscience now bigger and stronger than my sleep-shrunken ego–over sending the communication, because I didn’t really mean to. I realized that I was to blame for my negative state of mind, and that my words would hurt the recipient, make things worse, not better. I felt sick inside that I had sent the communication.

In the morning when I logged in to my computer, I found that the email I sent had bounced; even though the address was correct, something had prevented it from being delivered. This happened to me several times in the early days of my computer use, and I have always been grateful to whatever force it was that saved me from myself.

Not that it happened every time; like many people today, I have suffered and caused suffering, by hitting “send” without compulsion, without editing, without stopping to calm myself, and review what I wrote from a more detached perspective.

As the internet has grown and people have become linked, in an addicted way, to their machines–to Facebook and to Twitter and to texting– I cannot help but think that unseen forces, for good, and for evil, are out there, in the machine, taking advantage of our mass addiction, and  influencing people as they can, much like my angel helped block my negative outburst.

By the way, I have noticed that these negative, ego-generated states of mind seem to occur most frequently at night, when tired. This would be a good reason to practice positive affirmations, meditate, or best yet, to pray, before going to bed.

Last night, I did not pray.  Just before bed I spent 15 or 20 minutes on Facebook, scanning the many posts and responding to a few.  Then I went to bed, and as I was drifting off to sleep, an image, like a suggestion, suddenly popped into my head: I saw an angry thought and a desire, in a way that was like an impulsive command, to set off a bomb in a public place.  It was absolutely freaky. And I felt it had come into my mind from outside, specifically from the internet, to which I had just “merged” my mind, just prior to bed.

So this morning, I woke up thinking about this experience, and about the teachings of Elder Thaddeus, who is the spiritual guide to our 4th graders this year at St. Nicholas. He tought how critical our thoughts are. That when we read and hear about these horrible stories in the media of random and insane human violence and destruction, that such behavior is very likely fact driven by the fallen one, taking advantage of the unconscious addiction to which we modern humans have given ourselves.  And an idea came to me for how to counter this negative, even demonic, presence and influence.

As so many today know, our thoughts are very powerful; our thoughts determine our lives. And prayer is a form of thought that has even more power, for it calls out to the Creator for divine assistance.*  Many of us practice positive thinking; many of us practice meditation, of slowing our thoughts to a more peaceful place; and many of us practice prayer, and belong to prayer groups. If we were to flood the internet, flood Facebook, with positive thoughts and prayers, perhaps we can raise the vibrational level to be in league with God, with the angelic forces, help them do their work, raise the vibration of the entire world.

It would be interesting to do a broad experiment, and invite to post their favorite positive thought or prayer online, every night before bed. Many do this, but perhaps if we did purposefully, together, we could wage peace.

Every thought expressed, every word spoken, is like a pebble dropped in a still pond. It ripples outword. Perhaps what we need is more silence. The water is churning chaotically and fiercely with so many words. Maybe we would be best served by being still, saying nothing, and letting the waters quiet down.

Tire Pressure Gauge for Change

I just want to thank John McCain for bringing to my attention Barack Obama’s excellent suggestion that if all Americans were to simply inflate our tires properly, the country would save a huge amount of gas.
I am writing to report that on the micro level, my experience is that this is very true. My husband and I routinely track our mileage and all maintenance in a little log book we keep in the glove box. It’s something we’ve done for decades now, a practice which takes less than a minute per fill and helps us get a better deal on a trade-in — a little tip my husband learned from his auto mechanic dad, Joe Shinners, rest his soul.
Anyway, last week I drove to and from the Detroit area in our 2006 Honda CRV, a round trip of about 1,000 miles.  The night before departure I checked my tires; they were at 30-31 psi, so I filled them to 35 psi.  Since we got the car last fall, our best highway mileage was 26 mpg.  That simple tire inflation boosted the mileage to 31 mpg!  And that was driving through Indiana at and slightly above posted speeds of 70 mph. I imagine the results would be even higher at the most fuel-efficient speeds of 50-55 mph.
No matter who you’re voting for in the fall, the guy who promoted it or the guy who ridiculed it — do listen to AAA, NASCAR and all the experts, and inflate your tires!  If lots of us do it, it’ll add up to a huge gas savings, lowering demand, thereby helping bring down the price at the pump. If you want to get the best mileage of all, practice hypermiling to reduce traffic jams (it really works!), and drive at 50-55 mph whenever possible.  A little discipline across the board will yield results a lot quicker than new drilling for oil, without the inevitable environmental degradation to our fragile and priceless coastlines.
Yes, we can make a difference!