Bare Bones Biology 111 – Ritual II

What we all require from our rituals is guidance about “what we should do and what we should not do.” (As Thich Nhat Hanh says in Touching Peace)

We need to understand who we are and how to fit our lives into the big Life without causing harm to ourselves or to it. At the Peach Clubhouse we will have a copy of Joanna Macy’s very fine talk at The Economics of Happiness conference. She started out saying “We are really blessed by the straight talk here.” That got my attention. Or keep watching all the good talks at where it will eventually be posted.

Understanding how to fit our lives into the big Life without causing harm is a complicated task for which well-tested knowledge and positive rituals will help us a great deal more than any other kind of power. We are not more powerful than the big Life that is all life, and our attempts to provide for ourselves by destroying that Life will fail because our modern corposystem rituals are built in the sand of denial and based on the myth of omnipotence.

Ritual is a method of communication within and between populations. If the conditions are right, the rituals of a culture evolve with the needs of the culture. In our so-called modern cultures we have so many unmet needs, and so many ritualistic heritages, that they tend to be confused and misused by intent or by ignorance. That does not mean that rituals are wrong. If your language means nothing to me, then your rituals probably will also not inform me very well because there is no way for me to understand our common roots. That does not mean that you are fundamentally different from me or that your new discoveries are new to me. Yes, you have rituals that are special to you. We all do. Some of these are more useful than others. All of them can be misused.

So let’s not permit our favored rituals to lead us away from our deep reverence for the Source of everything that we need to stay alive and well. You’ve been studying your discipline for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years. I can top that, but why bother? At the root of the Source there is no metaphor, but only pure reality that cannot be denied, no matter how powerful our technology – no matter how bright we are.

Let’s stop growing cultures of denial in which the positive rituals of others cannot bear fruit: a) because we are not listening, so we don’t understand; or b) because we believe our own way is “special.” Maybe our way is not so very different, only we have different rituals and metaphors for the same old human problems. Maybe there are some better answers than what we know today.

Let’s not continue to ritualize our fears into the aggressive or passive-aggressive expressions of the need to win, or to be “right,” or to know more than others about how we proceed to the next evolutionary step in our human lives. We do not know how the earth will evolve. Evolution has way too many variables for us to predict. But we do have something previous generations did not have. In addition to the ritual warnings, we also have fact-based warnings about what we should not do as humans who love life.

For only one example, NASA Director James Hansen and other climatologists predicted climate change more than 50 years ago, based on over-growth of human technologies and population. We weren’t listening. That was a mistake.

If we choose to study only one source or sort of information about what we should do — or not do – our work tends to cancel the efforts of the other at a time when we could be doubling our impact by listening to authoritative sources of both sorts of information .

When I was involuntarily working for women’s liberation, I had no vision or image of women learning to be more powerful than they already were. I imagined women and men growing the rituals for our sustainable future, based in the subtler, more effective “Powers of the Weak” so that we together could grow a subtler, more effective more enduring and sustainable culture for human kind.

Maybe I succeeded and it took a couple of generations. Maybe that is what’s happening now. If so, I wish we would call it for what it is and work it for its full potential so that fully informed people of various traditions, rather than always trying to “teach” the other, are willing to listen hard and well together, and together discuss viable solutions.

For that to succeed, we must include valid scientific data in all our deliberations. Good basic biological science (not technology but holistic science) tells us a lot about what we should not try to do. Actually, so do most of the technologies we are using in our fatal effort to subdue the earth.

Bare Bones Biology 111 – Ritual II
KEOS 98.1 FM
The audio podcast can be downloaded here
Or at

Recommended References
Thich Nhat Hahn –
Elizabeth Janeway – Powers of the Weak
Joanna Macy –
James Hansen –
Paul Woodruff – Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue

Bare Bones Biology 104 – Economics of Happiness

Last week I attended the Economics of Happiness conference in Berkeley. Today I bring you the first portion of a message sent especially to us from the Founder of the project, Helena Norberg-Hodge.

“I think today it’s incredibly important that we have the bigger picture, in order to understand why we have such serious environmental problems, why we’ve got ever-increasing unemployment and debt and financial insecurity. And when we look at the bigger picture it becomes very clear that for a long time now our governments have been supporting a type of growth that is about increased global trade and global finance, in a way that makes multi-national corporations and banks so big and powerful that they in effect have become a sort of invisible government, world wide. And these giant corporations and banks have been pressuring governments to bring in what’s called free-trade treaties. These treaties are about de-regulating their activities in the global trading climate.

“Now what does that mean? It means removing the social and environmental protection measures that societies have built up. So, we’re in a very difficult situation, because these banks and corporations have so much power over our governments. They also have power over the media. They have power in academia, in science, in schooling. So almost all the avenues we have for understanding what’s going on in the world have now big corporation, for profit corporations and investment that’s pushing everything toward ever more globalized growth.

“Now that is bringing with it a massive increase in CO2 emissions, a massive increase in the use of packaging, plastics, refrigeration, irradiation, all kinds of things that we don’t really want, and its doing so mainly because of blindness. I mean, we in the environmental movement, in the social movement, we really need to wake up and look at the economy and the changes we need to make there.

“Then we can talk about localizing as a systemic alternative that can bring back power to the local level, and even to the national level. But we’ve got to be clear about what it is we want. We have to have real clarity about the fact that there is a path that can solve both the environmental and the social problem. What that is about is insisting that banks and businesses be place-based, or localized, belong to a locale. Now, for big industry, that needs to be no bigger than the nation-state level. So General Motors needs to be American, and Toyota needs to stay Japanese, and adhere to the rules that democratically elected governments bring in – in order to protect the environment, and in order to protect our jobs and our futures.

“So, there is a path, and its so important that this path could appeal to almost everybody, because even as CEOs and really big fat cats in big banks, the current system is so unstable, it’s so unfavorable, it’s being driven by completely deregulated, uncontrolled, speculative activity that’s pushing everybody in the wrong direction. So that the CEOs know that if they don’t rush over across the world to find the cheapest labor and the cheapest resources, and the largest scale projects, they will be taken over, so they’re running scared that they’re going to lose their jobs, even as the heads of these big corporations. If we could just get the message out, wait a minute, you don’t need to continue deregulating in order to produce food and to feed people and to produce all the needs that people have, we do not need to embark on continuing to deregulate, or globalize, economic activity.”

Bare Bones Biology 104 – Economics of Happiness
KEOS 89.1 FM
Audio copy available at

Recommended Reference:

Economics of Happiness

I love this picture that I took at the Economics of Happiness conference. I don’t really know why. I don’t know her. But I think somehow she reflects how I felt about this very positive conference that was based in knowledge and commitment to the future, rather than empty corposystem hype.

Yesterday at the Peach Clubhouse

Yesterday we showed the movie “Bhutan, Gross National Happiness” as a follow-up to “Economics of Happiness.”  Both these movies describe different ways of organizing our lives around community values, but the examples they give are primarily drawn from Eastern cultures.  Another such effort, that is flourishing in the Western world, is the Transition Movement that began in England and has spread rapidly.  Rob Hopkins’ “Transition Handbook” describes the basics of organizing a community around local resources.  This book is available to read at the Peach clubhouse, and you can also find Rob Hopkins on UTube.  We also have Bill McKibben’s book “Deep Economy” in the Peachhouse library, that I think describes a year living outside the Corposystem.

But of course the real reason for the clubhouse is to gather everyone together to bring me ideas – either to add new ones to the idea-pool, or to squeeze out old ideas that I didn’t know were in there.  And yes indeed ideas abounded yesterday.

1- Lots of good input for the new series of podcasts and vidcasts.  What is life?  What do we need to live a good life?  How can we get it, right under the noses of those who are dedicated to destroy the good things we have grown together?  (If you doubt that see the last three paragraphs of Chomsky’s recent article on TomDispatch.)

2- What is the deep meaning of Miyazaki’s latest film “Carried Away?”  I’ve been trying to figure that out ever since I got the thing last year.  Miyazaki’s films always hit you with an important meaning (three of my favorites are Kiki, Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke) and now I think I have the key to Carried Away and will add it to our Tuesday night schedule, probably in June.  Carried Away is about the weakness of the Corposystem.

3- Why do I get so upset when people bring our popular “aint-it-awful” mantra into the Peach Clubhouse?  Well for one thing, I got the Peach clubhouse as a way to get away from toxic mantras, but — why so upset?    Because I want not even for one moment to support the myth that the Corposystem has the ability to keep from me the really good things that we have grown together in this country.  Ritualized chanting of anything engrains that thing into our subconscious.  We all know that.  Ritual chanting of “we can’t do – – –  “  results in — weakness — and what is worse, it offers up our personal power on the altar of the Corposystem.  This blog and this house are all about our personal responsibility and power – not weakness.

Everybody – please read “Powers of the Weak,” by Elizabeth Janeway.  You can get it for seventeen cents on Amazon.  What a bargain.    And it’s on the shelf at the Peach Clubhouse.  Chapter 11 discusses the first power of the weak.  Disbelief.  Not to believe their propaganda or our cultural acquiesence without first examining all the alternative routes toward the common good.  The second power is in community.  There are plenty more that fly along under the radar.

This afternoon (Friday) at 3 PM, in the meditation room at the Peach Clubhouse, the Brazos Insight Meditation Society will meet for meditation followed by discussion over a cup of green tea.  You don’t have to sit on the floor.  I usually don’t.  But you can.

Tomorrow, Saturday the 23rd, is work day at the Peach Clubhouse.  Goal is to get that workroom cleaned up so we can start making vidcasts.

Next movie is really quite amusing.  Tuesday April 26 at 6 pm, a Dalai Lama Renaissance, in which a group of powerful movers and shakers goes to visit His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala.  The month of May will be a bit off schedule, because I am going to at least SEE the Dalai Lama in Arkansas.

So the first Tuesday night movie will be on May 3.  The title is “In the Land of the Free,” and it is quite a grim story of three people who have been kept in soliary confinement for most of 30 years each, for because they tried to stand for their civil rights.  More about that later.

Economics of Happiness

We have had several requests to show The Economics of Happiness again (two from our group who couldn’t make it today), so we will show it next Tuesday night, the 22nd, at 6 pm at the Peach Clubhouse, 1110 Justine in Bryan. This is free, and you can bring snacks, dinner or whatever. We will have coffee here. If this does not suit everyone I would be willing to show it on request anywhere local, almost any time. I think it’s that important. If you believe globalization causes problems, I am sure you would find this movie informative and moving. At it’s second showing on the West Coast, hundreds of people were turned away from the overcrowded venue in Seattle; they had come even though there was a blizzard whipping through the streets. Check their website if you want to know more about it.