Bare Bones Biology 152 – Meditation for an Easter Sunrise

This past Easter, Bitsy and I sat at the picnic table behind Los Sueños Trailer Park in Santa Fe. She upright and watching, I slumping awake with a cup of coffee. It was a wandering meditation and I let it wander.

The solid faithfulness of Notre Dame Cathedral. I couldn’t stay for the services – all that smoke and perfume drove me away, but the building – the building that welcomes all. In the off season I came often to sit inside its truths. I remembered the time I sat behind a woman, just the two of us, widely separated, she weeping and I letting myself feel her tears and return what I could of a blessing. We never spoke, she didn’t know I was there,and I will never see her again, but she is a part of my life, sheltered within that building – not the tourists and not the ceremonies, at least not for me. The building took three generations to build, by hand, in the middle ages, and if you listen you can feel the tears, the millions of human hands, the love, the joy, and the patience. Above all the patience. The stone blocks of the stairs hollowed out by our feet. The building carries forward a truth of human community.

Notre Dame made me think of Jesus, and I wondered what it felt like to be Jesus, the man who cried out: “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” And I thought again of the building, and the tourists who file around the periphery in dumb awe of truth, ignorant of those who weep in the seats under the central dome of real life. 131328-sunrise-ASC_2832s

And that made me think of my favorite audio tapes that I carry when I travel. Stereo – with earphones. I pulled it out and plugged it in. One individual, not counting Bitsy, sitting at a picnic table, meditating and watching the sun rise while listening to The Messiah. EC gave it to me. How many individual people and other organisms have given me my life? Back in time and spread out across the living Earth? How wondrous a thing is Homo sapiens. How amazing a creation am I, arising within and nurtured by the glory of God’s Natural Laws. Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Nurtured by a tough Texas lady. Somehow connected with an unknown, weeping French woman.
Eileen Farrell, soprano: “And he shall feed his flock.”

Jesus, representing the facts of life for humans. We are born, we live, we die so that Life itself, the whole churning brew of perfectly interacting processes, may take its rebirth in every moment. Ever changing.

Not even the most brilliant scientists can map that churning brew of Life, but the truths of it are true, no matter who interprets them, be it Jesus or the Buddha or any other saint, or Handel, or science. And what will I give back?

Our job is to sort out the truths from among our own ego trips and corposystem propaganda — greed, hatred and ignorance. Our job is to understand the power that we hold, lest it harm all the generations of our future Our job is to continue to learn about, and not to fight over, any truth of God’s Living system, because – we only understand part of it and a lot of what we do understand is wrong. Because we are not God. We are nothing more than a bit of life in the great stream of God’s system of Life.

And “We, like sheep” go often astray.

God is what it is, not what you or I have decided that it is. Our job is not to war against it or the Life that it is creating in every moment of time, but to honor it’s process and receive its blessing.

“Hallelujah”

And after Easter comes Earth day. I’ll see you there on Saturday, April 20.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a weekly production of FactFictionFancy.com, and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 145b – Power

Y’all remember the Peach Clubhouse (which is still functioning by appointment, and you might be surprised what we are up to).  We learned quite a number of important things from the Peach Clubhouse.  One is that we aren’t going to change anyone’s mind, which is really, really sad because if we collectively continue our current world view, then this generation will be responsible for the unnecessary suffering of the children of man on into the foreseeable future.

Pipelines mapPeople look at me askance when I say this.  “Dotty old ladies have a right to their opinions,” they seem to think. In any case, they don’t bother themselves to find out whether or not I know what I’m talking about (http://www.radioproject.org/2013/02/putting-the-eco-back-into-economics-with-david-suzuki/).  Apparently they don’t understand that the biological laws of God and nature are what they are, and do not change according to our opinions.  That’s why we call them facts. (Romans 1:20.  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made  . . .”)

The generation that is currently in control of our society is so ignorant of reality and so arrogantly confident in the power of its toys that they actually believe they invented systems that can compete successfully against the systems that God created. Compete with the earth

Nonsense.  Not to mention blasphemy and astronomical ignorance.  The laws of nature are natural laws – facts of life — with or without God, no matter what anyone believes or how powerful Chevron may be.

Personally, my goal is to do less harm than good on this earth, and to grow a vision of a social structure that might succeed after this one crashes.  (Yes, I know you are happy with this one, but any social structure that can’t tell the difference between a law of God and nature — and a Managing Director — will not survive on this earth.)

And because it is the responsibility of elders to share what they have learned in their long lives, therefore my goal is to figure out and share the skill-set necessary to grow a sustainable, reasonably comfortable and rewarding human lifestyle within our earth ecosystem for our future generations.

For the do-gooders who are working hard to do whatever you are working to do – all of you out there who believe that a one-track vision is enough (compassion, saving every fertilized egg, growing bigger web-based pyramid schemes, good grief, happiness) – you are wrong, and it is your responsibility to fact-check what you are doing against the needs of the ecosystem rather than the applause of the corposystem.  The requirements for contributing to a positive human social structure are that each of us take the responsibility for our fact-based education – minimally – about:

1. The basic physical requirements for the ecosystem to be healthy. Because the healthy functions of earth ecosystem give us everything we need to stay alive — soil, food energy, air, water, shelter.

2. Practical, applied compassion. Because humans require compassion to lead reasonably comfortable and rewarding lives (www:Bare BonesBiology 080-The Golden Rule).

3. A rule of law that recognizes the different and sometimes conflicting needs of different levels of life on earth — individual, population, ecosystem — and strives for the overall viable balance.

Photo from 350.orgsmallIn other words, the minimum responsibility of one human to her fellow humans is her sincere effort to learn, understand and discuss together the facts of life around the Laws of Nature, Practical Compassion, Rule of Law.   An arrogant, one-pointed meditation on whatever you already know will not resolve our current problems.  It will require study of what you do not know for us to succeed.

As for me, I’m glad that the revolutionary American Dream is not totally dead, though it has been mortified and driven underground by the corposystem and the biologically ignorant solutions proposed by the TEA party and its hangers on who fail to respect the works of God and nature that permit Life to exist on earth

This last weekend, Americans expressed themselves FOR the ecosystem 40,000 or more strong in Washington DC.  You might not hear about this on the corposystem media, so check it out on the web. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/17/climate-rally-washington-organizers_n_2707886.html.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

 

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at:

Recommended References

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/17/climate-rally-washington-organizers_n_2707886.html

The New Testament, Romans 1:20 (“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made  . . .”)

http://www.radioproject.org/2013/02/putting-the-eco-back-into-economics-with-david-suzuki/

http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

http://www.BareBonesBiology

http://350.org

Bare Bones Biology 133B – World Community

Last week I described, in a very general way, how I imagine the human brain processes information. The primary take-away message is that our brains are not universal. We are one species out of billions that are required to operate the functions of the living earth — just as any one cell of our brain is only one out of billions that are required to operate our amazing human brain. Secondly, there are levels of function of the human brain that we do not control – they control us. They control the basic functions of our bodies, and the basic nature of our emotions.

However, we also have higher levels of function in our brains that can adapt to our environment in a conscious way. One of these qualities is how we are learning all the time. Another is our intellect, that we can use to evaluate ourselves and our surroundings. If we try, we can figure out the difference between our perceptions — that is what our reality feels like according to our world view – and what the world really is according to facts that we study in physics, chemistry and biology. For example, we can measure the speed of light using tools designed by our intellect, but according to our perceptions, we would not know about the speed of light. We wouldn’t know that light is energy. We wouldn’t understand energy and would not have learned how to control fire, for example, during the millennia of our origins.

In all those millenia, the problems we faced had to do with how to interact with an overwhelming environment. For example, I was very touched by the last story in the most recent National Geographic. It is the story of an interaction between today and a primitive tribal culture. I won’t tell you the end of the story, but for me it was a heart-wrenching illustration of the choices we must make if we are to survive within the requirements of our environment. (National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea.)

Today, we no long live sheltered in the broad green arms of our ecological home. I think that’s one reason why we experience the levels of discomfort, dis-ease and discontent that we do in our culture, but that’s not something we can deal with now. We have already destroyed that long-distant Garden of Eden. We can’t go back and change the mistakes of yesterday. You younger folk don’t realize that yet probably, but it can be demonstrated using, that intellect of ours, that the earth has modified herself to our needs about as much as she can. Our choice now is whether to push the environment even more. If we do, it’s likely to change so much that it can no longer support our needs for air, water, shelter, earth and human companionship.

We can do this, I know our brain is capable of understanding the problems that we face, and we can join together communally to deal with them. However, we cannot face these challenges using only our inborn instincts. If we are to succeed, it will require our intellect in two ways. First, we must educate ourselves about the ecosystem, how it functions and what it needs from us in order to sustain itself; second we must use our intellect to grow a new culture, based in what we know about basic instincts, and on what previous cultures have taught us, and incorporating our scientific knowledge and changing our attitude toward technology.

We now must decide together whether we, as a culture of the world, want to continue using technology to dominate and to make money – or if we will choose to, find a better way, based on a better goal-set than winner/loser. We do know there are better and more satisfying ways for humans to live, and the first thing we need to understand — we are not God. We do not understand the infinite meaning of life, nor can we control it. Our need to control, our ego, our desire to grow life in our image, whether the image be evil or even if it is a good image – that is the source and cause of our man-made disasters.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photo by Lynn, Lucky B Bison

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_133_-_World_Community.mp3

Recommended Action/Question for Discussion: Identify the source, and the path from source to table, of each item of food that is part of your Thanksgiving meal. In countries without a day of Thanksgiving (or with one), give thanks for your food at every meal and remember that it comes from the living earth. What, I wonder, is the difference between our living earth, and your God? Or mine?

Recommended References
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook, free, no strings – https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/
On the right side of the page click on the link under “Chapters” to download the PDF.

National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea, by Mark Jenkins, Photos by Amy Toensing.

Bare Bones Biology 101 – Religion and Science

Beginning this week, I’ll try to evaluate, with a very broad brush, several different belief-systems that are trying to improve human welfare for the future. Today and next week will be religion-based ideas.

I’ll try to be critical about all these efforts, for four reasons. First, that’s what I’m trained to do – to look for the flaws in any hypothesis. Second, understanding what needs to be improved is much more useful than a false belief that everything is just dandy and it always will be and we have no responsibilities beyond ourselves at level one. Sometimes I wonder if the Corposystem is the author of the glass-half-full mantra. I always imagine a glass with nothing in the bottom half, and a layer of pink lemonade magically suspended in the top half. Nobody can make wise decisions if they never even see he bottom half of life. Further, we can’t take care of responsibilities we don’t believe exist, or enjoy accomplishments we can’t see. And while God probably can perform miracles, I doubt if we can count on him to save us from our own failure to recognize our responsibilities.

So –

Third – I am not trying to bash anyone, in spite of what I just said. It’s not even about me; I’m too old to benefit by anything that is likely to result from a critical analysis. Fourth, I’m not formally affiliated with any of these positive actions, but I do care very much about the positive human values they all espouse. If we must take sides, I’m on yours.

There are many religion-based efforts to improve our world, beginning with individual self-improvement, and then a plethora of groups that may or may not be affiliated with established religions. The Dalai Lama, Karen Armstrong and others (Some references are below) outline an ethic that can be espoused by anyone, with or without a religion, who believes in the more positive human values. I’m sure there are also many, many other wonderful developments within all of the religions.

Whatever our religion, it is critically important at this time, when humans hold so much destructive power, to understand why religion is not science and science should not be a religion. For an example, I collected a series of podcasts from an organization called Evolutionary Christianity (ref). Each podcast is the message of a different speaker who describes how he or she believes very positively both in God and in evolution. These are available at the Peach Clubhouse.

Religion is not a science, because religion is based in human values; and science should not be a religion because science should not be based in human values.

Religion functions at the individual and population levels of human reality. Its purpose is to support human values and serve human welfare. Basic research science functions at all levels of physical reality, and it’s purpose is to learn how things function. I’m not talking about technology, which is about making things, and usually selling things. Basic research biology, for example, is about learning how life functions to stay alive.

For the most part, life does not operate according to human values. Certainly the whole earth ecosystem does not. The ecosystem is the functional result of all the interacting life cycles of all the organisms, including humans, that live on earth. The ecosystem functions according to natural laws, like gravity or thermodynamics, and laws do not care about our emotions. To understand laws, we need facts. Therefore, science is about measurable facts, and these facts tell us that the ecosystem has its own needs some of which are different from what humans may need or want.

If we want to support human values and serve human welfare, we humans have at least two sets of needs and values to consider. First is the welfare of the ecosystem, because it is the ecosystem that gives us life. At the same time of course we must find a way to compassionately sustain human kind within the ecosystem. Both these jobs are important to our well being, but they are different tasks requiring different tools.

Bare Bones Biology 101 – Religion and Science
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

    Recommended References

Karen Armstrong, Charter for Compassion, http://www.charterforcompassion.org/

Evolutionary Christianity – http://evolutionarychristianity.com/

H.H. The Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dalai+Lama+beyond+religion

Huston Smith, The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions
http://www.amazon.com/The-Worlds-Religions-Wisdom…/0062508113

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers, on DVD at PBS
http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=4365261&cp=&sr=1&kw=power+of+myth&origkw=power+of+myth&parentPage=search

Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, http://www.amazon.com/AN-Inconvenient-Truth-Crisis-Warming/

Bare Bones Biology 071 – God, Energy, Me

OK, Let’s say there is a God and the Kingdom of God is THIS BIG! As big as this whole piece of paper. Or the room, or whatever. You can make it smaller if you want, but my God is a very big God who generated the whole universe that we know about – and much more that we don’t know about. He’s a busy God, so he set up rules for the universe, so it can run more or less by itself. I mean he does not sit there waiting for a stone to loosen from the wall of the mountain so he can push it on down to the valley. He’s probably busy over on the other side of the universe. So he invented gravity for that sort of thing. And the same with energy. All kinds of energy, the kinds we do understand and those we don’t.

So everything that God understands is this whole piece of paper. Everything that science (I mean real inquiry, not technology) everything that science understands is inside the green line I’ve drawn here. These spaces of course are not proportional, or it would be enormously smaller. Everything that science understands would include some things about some of the kinds of energy. So let’s make a pink line to represent all the kinds of energy that there are, and it overlaps science a little, where science does understand some things about energy. Now let’s add up every person on earth and everything that everyone together understands about everything, and make an orange line. The orange line will overlap all of science and a little bit of the energy space.

And then there is me. I would be a black dot too small to see, but I’ll have to make myself a black line to represent that I know something about all of those things. How wonderful it is that humans have been given the ability to share information. We can know more than any other species on earth. So I overlap the human knowledge space, I know many things about science, I have experiences with energy and with the unknown, so my line overlaps all the other spaces, just a tiny bit.

If I would put a line for my horse, you would see that I know much more than she does. She understands things inside her fence, where to find food and water and what to look out for. And she understands her responsibilities. I once saw her teaching her new foal to stay away from the fence. Things like that. I know more than she does. I know where my food energy actually comes from through photosynthesis, and I know some things about formalized human cultures, and so on.

Now we are halfway through this spot and I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know. But the reason for all of this is to compare myself, in a way, with the horse. I’m wondering, what is my personal responsibility within the giant system that covers this whole page? The system runs by itself; obviously it’s not my job to run it. There is not much I could do to make it function properly; no more than the horses do. What other responsibility could I have? It must be that my personal responsibility is to not mess it up. I should not interfere with its ability to do what God made it to do.

Is that possible you say? From my little smaller-than-dot in the middle of the page? Could I actually mess up the system? With this enormously powerful God out there, and all those spiritual powers that can come and put it back to rights any time they want to?

The answer is, yes it is possible, at least for us all together, to damage the ecosystem so badly that we can no longer find a home here.

And so now the question is – why would any other entity – any God or entity — want to save us when we won’t even use what we already know to save ourselves? And why would we want to wait and see if they do save us, when it would be so much more pleasant to get together with other people and figure out how we can save ourselves.

Bare Bones Biology 071 – God, Energy, Me
KEOS radio 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at FactFictionFancy.wordpress.com
Audio later this week at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Bare Bones Biology 058 – Happiness

“May all living things enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.”

I recently attended a weekend workshop at Omega Institute , where Pema Chodron explained, “The root of happiness is when we can stop struggling with ourselves just as we are, and against the world and our experience just as it is.”

She spent eight hours explaining this statement, and of course I can’t tell you about it in just five minutes, but the concept coincides perfectly with our scientific understanding of life on earth. And it reminded me of one of the most important ideas in the Bible, that is humility. When three bodies of knowledge converge, it’s time to pay attention. If we want to be “happy” or content, we need to have the humility to recognize that humans cannot change the works of God. We can’t change how the ecosystem functions. Even if we are the biggest cheese in the corposystem. Even if we are a biologist.

Biology is the study of life, and life is a fragile flower, beautiful and delicately balanced at the intersection of the interacting laws of physics. Change one little bit of it, and life will change as well. In fact, that is a definition of life. It changes as conditions change. That’s how it stays alive. But life CAN NOT change the basic laws of nature that give rise to life in the first place.

If we want to survive, let alone in happiness or contentment, we need to know what we can change and what we cannot change without destroying the interacting emergent balance that is life itself. It’s not hard to understand. It’s common sense, once we know how the power flows through the ecosystem, and if you want to know this you can download the Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook from my web site.

Life exists on earth because the natural laws are exactly as they are. If gravity were a tad off, or energy transfer were not as it is, we would not exist. If the diversity of species is sufficiently diminished, the living earth will not be able to accommodate the changing conditions of life. That’s how it stays alive. The living earth could die, just as your living body can die, if the balance of its needs is overwhelmed.

Technology can not change these things. We are not God; when we struggle against God’s miracle we are fighting against God, or the ecosystem, or life as it must be if it is to be. Exactly as the corposystem is now fighting in a vain and ill-advised effort to overwhelm the ecosystem. It is the worst kind of hubris to believe that we have more power or knowledge than God – or the ecosystem. I think it is the worst kind of criminality, because we know what the ecosystem needs to stay alive, and we know what will happen if we mess it up, and yet we publish continuing propaganda promoting ever greater messing, rather than to admit our mistakes and come together in an effort to bring a better quality of life to our future generations.

“The root of happiness is when we can stop struggling with ourselves just as we are and the world and our experience just as it is.” Pema Chodron

The Bible refers to this happy quality as humility. Recognizing reality for what it is.

Our experience of suffering arises from our struggle against the realities of the miracle of life.

Doing the right thing is not a struggle against reality – it is the process of going with the flow of positive human values informed by the needs of other living things and their emergent properties. The right thing to do exists where the best of human values affirm the long-term welfare of all sentient beings at all of their levels of organization.

Bare Bones Biology 058 – Happiness
KEOS 89.1 FM, Bryan, TX
Download after Monday at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Bare Bones Biology 055-Susan Crane

Susan Crane created “Ploughshares” as part of her lifetime commitment to ending nuclear proliferation by nonviolent means. Of course she’s only one of so many people who act upon their convictions, even including many people we do not admire. But we do admire when someone gets it right in the compassion department, and then does her homework so that she understands both the facts and the implications of her actions – and then she acts upon her convictions — that’s what I call wisdom compassion. Wisdom compassion looks upon suffering and then tries to understand the causes of that suffering. Wisdom compassion looks at all the levels of human involvement, from the individual level to the community (in this case the communal rule of law), to the level of the corposystem and the ecosystem. All the living levels. Wisdom compassion says: “Let’s look at the root causes of (whatever is the problem) and see what we can do about it that will not cause more suffering from the cure than from the cause.

Susan Crane was interviewed on Sprouts a few weeks ago (Pacifica Radio, not to be confused with Jane Goodall’s Sprouts clubs). Sprouts is hard to find on the web, so I will help you by linking it to my blog. On KEOS radio, 89.1, Sprouts is aired on Sunday mornings at about 6:30. I started listening because I don’t want to miss Bare Bones Biology on Sunday mornings at 6:55. And neither should you. But Sprouts, and sometimes Sierra Club Radio that precedes it, are equally as good as the Monday evening programs you hear on KEOS. So the full story is available on the Sprouts podcast, and I have a copy of that if you want to hear it.

The short version is that Susan Crane broke into a nuclear facility to smear her blood on a nuclear submarine, and has been sentenced to quite a long jail term for this action.

For me the bottom line of this story is the way it demonstrates the difference between heart compassion and wisdom compassion. Your basic heart compassion imagines what it would feel like to be under a nuclear bomb exploding. Your wisdom compassion studies the effects of nuclear technology through the levels.

So to really simplify this, in terms of suffering the nuclear sub gets negative marks at the individual level, and the ecosystem level, while it contributes positively to the economic level. At the level of communal rule of law – it is against American law to smear blood on a nuclear submarine, but it is against international law even to have submarines ready to drop nuclear weapons on anyone.

Clearly, Susan Crane has spent a lot of effort evaluating the complexity of the problem, before dedicating her life to nonviolence. In my perspective, this means she is acting from heart compassion that has been informed by her wisdom compassion to dedicate her life to others in a way that causes the least overall suffering in the world.

Do I believe that Susan Crane went through such an analytical step by step approach to evaluating her actions? Of course not. The stepwise evaluation is only a study aid to help us remember that more is involved, and often more of importance. The point is that Susan Crane evaluated all the parameters, in her own way, to make sure she is not causing more harm than good by her actions.

But wait. There is another, higher level for Susan Crane. Listen to her own words.

“I was at the Methodist church one night preparing for a little gathering we were having, a pot luck, and I was talking about nonviolence, so I had this piece of paper, and I was writing the attributes of nonviolence on it, and on the opposite, violent responses to things. The way the culture often teaches us to respond. And I realized at that moment that all the attributes I had for nonviolence – compassion, love, forgiveness – are the attributes that many of us call God.“

Photograph – volunteers at Brazos Valley Food Bank
Volunteers from the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue
Gause Full Gospel Church
and others

Bare Bones Biology 055 – Susan Crane
KEOS radio 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at factfictionfancy.wordpress.com
Audio at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com