Bare Bones Biology 295 – The Hub

Last week, on the back of the bulletin in the Episcopal church, we read the following:

 

“God is the hub of the wheel of life. The closer we come to God, the closer we come to each other. The basis of community is not primarily our ideas, feelings, and emotions about each other, but our common search for God. When we keep our minds and hearts directed toward God, we will come more fully ‘together.’”       Henri J. M. Nouwen.

 

imagesIf you have followed Bare Bones Biology for a while, you have heard me say from time to time that that I believe The Creation consists of one reality that is factually true, and searching for that factual reality is one of the more direct routes toward truth — from wherever we begin our path.

 

“More specifically, when one looks at things from the perspective of the rim, then the spokes connecting the rim with the center seem very separate from one another . . . as do the various religious traditions when viewed  through the glasses of their respective theologies, rituals, and so on. However, when one reaches the  center of the wheel where all of the spokes come together, then one appreciates the principles of unity which govern the function of the wheel despite the apparent disparities of the individual spokes and, similarly, when one is opened to the mysteries of Self-realization, then, one experiences, in direct fashion, the unity which underlies and glues together the apparently disparate aspects of life …”   Shayk Tariq Knecht.

 

But certainly we can’t get there exclusively on the back of measurable facts and the scientific method. The Creation is very much more than that, and contains many kinds of reality.  facts are facts, but they are not sufficient because truths cannot be comprehended by humans at the level of literalism. The Creation is very much more than facts, especially reductionist facts, because, for one example that is or can be purely physical, The Creation is a system composed of systems.  And there are not many kinds of measurable facts.   Nevertheless, real facts, and the road toward our understanding of real facts and our responsible use of them, do indeed carry us closer to the hub of truth. Similarly, our other modes of truth-seeking, if they are valid and if we make the honest effort, must meet at the hub of reality, mingled among the facts of science.

 

Our culture is nowhere near that hub, and of course we will not get there, to the center, if we can’t tell the difference between real facts, our own world views, the nuggets of truth that lie at the heart of our myths and metaphors, and our opinions that are never omniscient. There are many things that humans cannot understand:

 

“One of the striking peculiarities of common man is that, while he now has abundant scientific evidence to the contrary, he finds it intensely difficult to   understand that his beliefs are by no means always linked with his intelligence, his culture, or his values.” Indries Shah.

 

And we cannot draw near to any truth until we learn to discuss the issues that divide us and connect us, because:

 

“Discussion, like an army, serves no human master, but harnesses the force of argument and the power of personality to the common goal of growing understanding.” Paul Woodruff.

 

And our culture is unwilling to discuss he critical issues. So I defer to His Holiness The Dalai Lama, who has accepted, with incredibly compassionate wisdom, the enormous “cross” of the golden wheel (that wheel in the picture is supposed to be golden) that represents the eightfold path of his heritage, and has expanded that responsibility to encompass the world of all science, all religion, and all sentient beings. He quotes Shantideva:

147548

“May the fearful become fearless;

May those oppressed by grief find joy;

May those who are anxious

Be rid of their anxiety and feel secure.

 

“May health come to the sick;

May they be free from every bondage;

May those who are weak find strength,

Their minds tender toward each other.

 

“As long as space remains,

As long as sentient beings remain,

Until then, may I too remain

And help dispel the miseries of the world.”

(sound familiar?)

 

In our corposystem culture, we have replaced that golden wheel, and its eightfold path that reaches toward the hub of Life, replaced it with the grimy threefold cycle of co-dependence that generates and re-generates the fairy-tale of human supremacy uber alles.

 

I do not wish in any way to demean the “parts” of the system of human aspirations in favor of the whole. No more than Shantideva demeans the parts in the above quote. In any case that would not work, because the whole is clearly an emergent reality that is dependant for its very existence upon its parts. (Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems, 2008, Chelsea Green; Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters, 2001, Harper One).

 

But for myself, I do not wish to spend my own short personal time in reverence for the parts over the whole emergent miracle of the ongoing creation of Life of Earth.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Worpress.com. A copy of the podcast may be found at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_295_-_The_Hub.mp3

The Blog address is: https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/bare-bones-biology-295-the-hub/

References

Henri J. M. Nouwen. The Genesis Diary.

Shayk Tariq Knecht. 2010. Journal of a Sufi Odyssey.

Indries Shah. 1968. The Way of the Sufi, Penguin Books.

Paul Woodruff. 2001. Reverence, Oxford University Press.

Shantideva. 2008. A translation of the Bodhicharyavatara, Revised Edition, translated from the Tibetan by the Padmakara Translation Group, Shambala.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths, Doubleday.   Probably with help of his primary English translator Thupten Jinpa

Donella H. Meadows. 2008. Thinking in Systems, Chelsea Green.

Huston Smith. 2001. Why Religion Matters, Harper One.

Photo by  Urania-joseglisifilho.blogspot.com

Bare Bones Biology 150 – What Can I Do?

While you pursue your human goals
Believing that you help the suffering,
The butterflies are dying in your own back yard.

You can blame it on karma,
Or God’s will,
Or some evil influence,
And all of that is true.

But the slaughter continues because of the human ego
that can walk across a field of death and destruction
And only see itself.

I wrote this poem last week while watching a fine blazing sunrise that reminded me of a quote from Psalm 89.

“The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours;
everything in the world is yours—you created it all.”

130315-sunrise-ASC_2765FsNot thinking about the consequences, I immediately emailed my poem, without commentary, to several friends. Of course the moment I punched the “send” button I realized each of these people probably will assume I was writing about them personally. So then I followed up to explain what I really meant. One friend wrote back the following:

“If people think that it is about them, then maybe it is.

“But what SHOULD I do?” they will ask.
And your answer may seem nearly as difficult to them as the one that went, ‘Sell what you have, and give to the poor.’ Your answer is,

“Change your value system.
Stop listening to advertisements.
Stop feeding your emotions with STUFF; just get what you need, or genuinely want.
Get out, find some natural landscape somewhere. Breathe the air. Notice the rest of life besides humanity.
Discover what that other life needs. As a major item it needs less humans, so your main aim will be to have a small family if any, 1-2 children, and to persuade your friends and relations to do that too.
Your second aim will be to consume less goods (especially from distant places) and less energy, also less meat. There are many ways to do that.
The end.”

Yes indeed, but my answer to the question of what we can do might not seem as daunting as her answer. Mine would be:

Watch the sun rise up and move across the sky as it greens the living earth. Meditate about the laws of nature that God created to generate and maintain Life, the whole earth ecosystem.

As the sun moves down every evening, consider that no opinion or no action of yourself or any other person created Life, and no opinion or no action of yourself or any other person can change how God’s laws of nature function to maintain Life of earth.

301815_318718714859423_146189222112374_876076_1786453066_nStop wasting your time arguing over opinions and debating fake advertising propaganda that is designed by the corposystem to spread death and destruction to the living earth. Learn to know the difference between opinions, and the created facts of life. Feed your emotions by learning how God’s created natural laws actually do function to maintain Life. Specifically, how does Life stay alive? Without this knowledge, how can you function to protect Life?

Discuss these things as often as possible with other people, including people who are genuine experts. Learn to recognize expertise. (Hint, reporters’ expertise is reporting things, not evaluating them. Technologists expertise is making things and selling them to make money — that is a corposystem value, Life’s value is not to make money. Life’s value is to maintain Life. Genuine experts study how things work.)

And then understand that wise compassion is not that soft-fuzzy feeling that makes us believe we are doing good for other people whenever WE feel good. Real wise compassion is the genuine heartfelt wish and obligation of every human to provide for the welfare of Life “unto the seventh generation” or beyond. It’s our only value on earth, to protect God’s creation, the Life-System, against the evils of human ego and the human corpo-system that deals in death and destruction in the name of fake compassion.

When you do as I suggest, then I trust your good judgment. You will automatically do as my friend suggests. If you do as she suggests, then you already understand much of what I suggest. Keep doing it.

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:

For the people who read my blog, here’s a quote from The Dalai Lama.
“The model of turning the other cheek or of having an overriding compassion for all beings, however they treat you, is about the elimination of self-centeredness and the cultivation of qualities that – in a theistic tradition – bring the practitioner ever closer to the Creatior, making him or her ever more similar to God, so that life may be lived in the image of God. In a nontheistic tradition like Buddhism, compassion brings its practitioner ever closer to freedom from clinging to the narrow confines of a self-centered way of being and opens a space for the interconnectedness with all beings.”


Suggested References:

Lynn Lamoreux: Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook available free under Chapters on right side of blog
The Dalai Lama: Toward a True Kinship of Faiths
The Eagle: Butterflies
http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/article_b2c60ec6-9f82-52c6-9d50-1fd4305da04b.html

Bare Bones Biology 122 – Human Hands

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. A podcast can be downloaded later this week at:http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/BBB122-Human_HandsFinal4.mp3

Hold up your hand flat open with your palm facing me. As though you were a policeman trying to stop an onrushing disaster.

Your four fingers and your thumb are all pointing in different directions.

Now let’s think of your four fingers and your thumb as problems or “actions” that you and other socially conscious people are promoting — spending your time, energy and money, using your life to benefit your family, the community and humankind in general. Every person using his/her best skills to address one or other of the major actions, trying to relieve the problems faced by humankind today.

Let’s say your first finger represents hunger, and all the people trying to reduce world hunger. The second finger can represent global warming. The third finger can represent conflict, for example war, politics, genocide, modern economics. And the fourth finger represents religion and spirituality. Your thumb represents overpopulation.

What I notice about this hand is that all five of the digits are pointing off toward different and separate goals. If you added together the five different problems, and the people who are working to address these problems. Well, they are not working together for a common goal – they are going off in five different directions. Often they fight or argue with each other or they simply ignore each other, rather than discussing common goals. For this reason the work of one group often cancels out the gains of one or more of the other groups.

For example, one group is working for compassion in the belief that a compassionate community will not fight. Another group tries to win because they believe that will solve all our problems. The climate change group, after a few hundred years of evidence, is finally beginning to recognize its problem is real and is trying to decide whether to adapt or deal with the root cause of climate change. The hunger group can’t possibly accomplish its goal in the face of climate change and excessive population growth. And the overpopulation group believes that no positive goals can be achieved by continuing the destructive path that caused these problems in the first place.

We imagine if all the groups accomplished their goals they would all add up to a successful community. The reality, however, looks more like a mish-mash of confusing goals and conflicting interests.

Efficient and effective problem solving does not jump out into the world in five different directions at once, with the different parts of itself fighting among themselves. Modern business practice has made many serious mistakes, but at least one good concept has come out of it, and that is goal setting. Good business defines its goals, sets its guidelines, and informs all parties involved.

Our basic human goal is to live in a community that is sustainable into the future. Surely it must be, and if it’s not we should ask each other why not, because we aren’t acting as though it were. We have all these five problems, and more, dashing off in all directions at the same time. Don’t you agree that we could organize ourselves in some way that would at least have a chance of growing a positive future? I think such a future is possible.

If our primary goal really is the common welfare, then we can align our four fingers to represent of our commitment to the common goal of human sustainability on this earth, in good health, at least through the lifetimes of our grandchildren. If my genuine stated goal is the same as the stated goals of people working in different disciplines – then we will cease to be all working for different outcomes.

Next, we can recognize the physical facts: (1) that nobody can accomplish anything if there is not enough food for them to eat, (2) that all our food comes from the earth, and (3) the earth now has more people than it can feed. If you don’t believe these are real facts, then you have an obligation to the hungry humans in the world to fact-check your belief system.

So we then fold our thumb under at the roots of the four fingers, to represent represent the facts: (1) that overpopulation is at the root of all of the other problems. Yes we have had these problems in the past and we did not solve them before. Blame your heritage. Now is now and now we cannot solve them if a large part of the earth’s population is desperately struggling to make a living, and ; (2) therefore, that no other compassionate goal can be accomplished when there are more people than the earth can feed; and (3) therefore, the four other goals cannot be solved in the presence of overpopulation.

Therefore, if we genuinely want to accomplish our goals. If we want our behavior to reflect our commitment to the real goal, and regardless of our personal expertise or our primary interest — hunger, global warming, conflict resolution (community) or spirituality – then it is our obligation to spend a portion of our effort, every day, to help compassionately reverse human overpopulation, first informing ourselves about why it is a problem, and then addressing that problem as it relates to our own special skills and projects. I tend to judge people’s compassion by their behavior. When I see anyone brush off this obligation with a platitude or a blank look — we all do really know how important it is. Then I wonder why they don’t really want to know. Can it be they don’t want to help carry the burden of responsibility that goes with knowledge?

And then – we all work together to accomplish both the root goal and the individual goals by enclosing all of life on earth within the fully informed, goal-oriented, responsible, compassionate hand of human kind.

And then, you ask. (Everyone does.): “But it is such a big problem, what can I do?” The answer is – in this sequence:

1-You can recognize that this is not about “me.” It’s not about who does what at the level of individual decision making. Do not promote the fake debate (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/another-fake-debate-pro-life/) over family planning, which is corposystem propaganda meant prevent us from growing our personal and community power (http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com/About)within the ecosystem. Instead study the real overpopulation threat, which is about human suffering at the level of the population, and at the level of survival of the whole living earth.

2-Do not waste time blaming anyone; it will not accomplish our common goal. Instead educate yourself and others about the suffering of populations of humans who do not have access to family planning because our corposystem is withholding that resource from them.

3-Education yourself about how the ecosystem functions to maintain its balance and therefore it’s welfare and its life (you could start with the Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook downloadable from the right side of this blog site).

4-Discuss all three “sides” of the issue with family and friends. The “sides” minimally can be described as the conflicting needs of individual persons, families, communities, and the whole earth ecosystem.

5-What we need most right now is the political will to make family planning available compassionately to everyone on earth who wants it and needs it for their health and well being. Work as a citizen to bring this to the people who need and want it.

Bare Bones Biology 122 – Human Hands

Bare Bones Biology 102 – Religion and Science

Where Christianity, and also other religions, seem still to be failing, is in the effort to understand the biological reality of overpopulation. Any religion that is based in love, compassion and kindness, in my opinion, has the deepest obligation to try to understand the ecosystem that gives us life — and our obligation to that life.

Certainly that is the message we get from the native peoples who have spoken out. Oren Lyons (Oren Lyons the Faithkeeper, interviewed by Bill Moyers) a Chief of the Onandaga, most eloquently warned us:

“We are now. Now is us. We’re the seventh generation. I’m sitting here as the seventh generation because seven generations ago there were people looking out for me. Seven generations from now, someone will be here, I know. And so each generation makes sure that seven generations is coming all the time. That’s accountability. We’re accountable. We, you and I, we’re accountable. Yes we are, and they are going to call us. They’re the ones that are going to say, why did you do this, or why did you not do this?” Listen also to NASA scientist Jim Hansen, for the scientific rationale.

So I will today give a very Bare Bones outline of the implications of world wide overpopulation, in my personal opinion and my professional opinion as a basic research biologist and geneticist. This is one of those tragic situations where the needs of level three (ecosystem) health conflict with the needs of level two (the health of the human population, and or economics, depending how one looks at it) which also competes with needs at the individual level (the health and welfare of individuals and their families). That’s exactly what happens when resources are not sufficient for the need –when, as in the graph, the food needs of the population are greater than the carrying capacity. In the case of the reindeer in this small area the result took place in a space of about 20 years, a little less. As is true for us on earth, the reindeer did not have access to food from any other place. I don’t like it any more than you do, but I challenge you to address this issue seriously, and prove that I am wrong before you settle back into denial mode.

Human populations world wide are now about at or somewhat above the carrying capacity of the earth, and our population is still growing. Our current solutions to this problem are 1) to destroy the earth, air and water of our home planet, and 2) to kill off millions of people, as we have been doing in wars all during the last century and this. Neither of these solutions is rational, because first they cannot be sustained and second, we now have the technology to provide a kinder future for our billions and for our host planet.

Our immediate action should be to make family planning available to everyone who wants it, worldwide. There is an unmet need of about 215 million couples. I am told by people in the field that many women who want contraceptive help — to pretect their own welfare and that of their children — are unable to get it. I do not understand why we believe that contraception is immoral but war, genocide and preventable starvation are not, especially as reduced populations would have less incentive to war and genocide; and even if these figures are off by a million or so, which I doubt, the implications for improving our biological sustainability are obvious. What we are doing instead is “educating women” while reducing availability of funding for family planning. This reminds me of the “abstinence” solution of one of our recent presidents, and I suspect it is based on that philosophy. It didn’t work even here in a country where contraceptives are readily available.

Our biological problem is that food for all living things comes from and is created inside of the ecosystem (by photosynthesis) and we have no other source for food and no firm expectation of finding any. As a result, we are killing off other species (using the food they need and poisoning them with herbicides and pesticides at high levels) in our efforts to make more food for ourselves. As a result of that, the ecosystem is becoming LESS HEALTHY and therefore less able to make our food, and also it is becoming LESS RESILIENT (think climate change) and therefore more likely to become uninhabitable for humans.

Meantime people keep asking why there are more and more poor and suffering in spite of our efforts to prevent this. The answer is that the only thing that CAN prevent an increase in need is to stop killing off other species (resilience) and to restore the balance between supply and demand (sustainability). The only way that humans can restore the balance is to reduce our population. We cannot make more food for ourselves because of the law of thermodynamics, which I can’t explain in one sentence, and even if we could make more food, we still would be destroying the resilience of the earth ecosystem. That is, its ability to stay healthy and make our food, our water, our air and our soil, which we cannot get from any other source .

Sometimes we wonder if these corpo-politicos understand what they are doing. Apparently they do. I have a recording of a young man who was raised and trained in one of the biggest of the big oil companies and who recently presented his opinion in an open hearing about whether or not one of these big pipelines would be built. His concluding sentence echoes the precautionary principle:

“If on one hand you had an unpredictable path that leads into a new dream, and a new way of life for all of mankind, and on the other hand you had another path that leads to the slow, inevitable decline of a civilization, which path would you choose?”

Bare Bones Biology 102 – Religion and Science
KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM
Podcast available here or at
http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

Recommended References

Oren Lyons the Faithkeeper, interviewed by Bill Moyers.
http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=11252309
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/

NASA Scientist Jim Hansen
Nasa scientist: climate change is a moral issue on a par with slavery
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/06/nasa-scientist-climate-change?fb=optOut

http://www.earth-policy.org/

Precautionary principle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle

Oil executive son’s powerful testimony at Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline joint review panel (includes transcript) Lee Brain, son of an oil man, receives a standing ovation and brings a crowd to tears after delivering powerful & inspirational testimony in front of the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel in Prince Rupert on February 18, 2012. http://youtu.be/1X3VynNZQaQ
http://energybulletin.net/media/2012-02-23/oil-executive-sons-powerful-testimony-enbridge-northern-gateway-pipeline-joint-revi

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/

Cause and Effect Denied

If you lose the cultural trappings and metaphors, the basic principles of Buddhism are totally compatible with Christianity. If you lose the trappings and metaphors of Christianity, it is entirely compatible with Buddhism. That’s because religion in its essence is a message from the past experiences of human kind that is intended to help us understand the natural law of cause and effect, and how it works in our relationships within populations and in the reality of how life functions. The laws of nature do not differ from one place to another or from one religion to another. In fact the laws of nature don’t know we exist. The laws of nature are what they must be if there is to be a universe, and if we choose to defy them or if we choose to understand them, the laws of nature don’t give a shit. They just are. So, the more we understand about them, the better we can learn how to get what we want in life. Religions are meant to help us toward more rewarding life by guiding us toward doing actions that have beneficial effects.

The basic law of cause and effect tells us things like – if you jump off a tall building you will fall. The evil that has been done to Americans mostly has to do with corrupting the concept of cause and effect, teaching us to believe in things that can’t possibly be, and so destroying our ability to use logic to make sense of our lives.

There is a basic law of cause and effect that we cannot change. The only way we CAN grow a long-term good life is to learn as much as we can about how the real world really does work – and the lies we are being told — and build that knowledge into our lives.

So the first step (“the first noble truth”) is to recognize that pain is unavoidable. The point is not whether or not you like that idea. The point is that if you try for a life that has no pain in it you will make it more painful than it really is. Bitsy’s caretaker’s mother has MS. When I picked up Bitsy yesterday, she was telling me how people don’t like to look at her mother and so they just turn away, and she said they would cause less suffering for everyone if they would learn to: “Deal with it.” Whether or not we like suffering is not relevant in our lives because it’s not one of the available choices. What gives us a better or worse life is how we deal with that and with the choices that are available. That’s what religion is supposed to help us to do more effectively. The more you know about the reality of cause and effect, the more effectively you can deal with it.

The wisdom traditions that are actually useful do not tell you that you can get whatever you want by magic or prayer or wishing or buying something. (For example what I said – if we keep doing whatever we are doing our lives won’t change very much unless of course there is some big change from outside.) If we want to change our lives, then we need to change our behaviors, and we also need to know what does NOT work. For example the American Dream does not work. It claims to benefit the entire population, but it can’t because that goal is biologically impossible using the methods – or behaviors – that we are using. We would be far better off to stop doing what we know is not working. We can’t live without air. We can’t eat without good earth to grow the food in. We can’t destroy the earth and still feed all the people. We can’t be fulfilled human beings by spending our time competing with other people, rather than growing sustainable communities. Those are the things we need to know if we want to find a sense of satisfaction.

The trick of living is to understand what we can NOT do and stop trying to do it. If we do the things that can’t give us what we want – we won’t get what we want. No matter what self-help make-believe someone is trying to sell us. If we want to grow a better future for ourselves or for anyone else, we need to consider the law of cause and effect and the ways in which our behaviors of today are most likely to affect our future(s). We humans know enough science to understand the basic biological realities. What I like about the principles of Buddhism is that they are a useful recipe for the human realities.

I got interested in the principles of Buddhism when I heard the Dalai Lama say just what I said in the paragraph above. I already understood the law of cause and effect as it is studied by science. He recognized this and compared it with Buddhism. Buddhism studies the law of cause and effect as it applies to human behaviors. But the other wisdom traditions also give us essentially the same useful recipe.

We cannot avoid the results of the behaviors of our society, but we don’t have to believe the lies or live out the false claims of the propaganda. The more useful alternatives are well understood.

Bare Bones Biology 064 – Corposystem Power

When I opened my mailbox to the January issue of National Geographic with the word population plastered across a picture of seething humanity, I knew this would be the year when we humans, as a society, will choose the future for our home on earth. Finally, I said, someone in authority is telling us the truth about our ecosystem.

Not surprisingly, the corposystem responded with a barrage of self-serving lies. Most of these center around the root lie that we can live in a world where infinite growth is possible.

From my point of view, the good thing about their lies is that they make no sense at all, and anyone can do the math. Anyone can understand that the corposystem power will fail unless the corposystem changes its world view. Because the world view that it has built (James Hillman calls it a religion) is not based in physical, factual reality, and as time goes by the corposystem must tweak this and lie about that to make their little world seem as though it makes sense. But, as someone has said, physics will not wait around for us to catch on to reality. The factual reality of physics is what it is, without regard for anyone’s opinion or metaphor or ideology.

The fatal flaw of the corposystem ideology is its myth of infinite growth. In fact, infinite growth is physically impossible anywhere in our solar system. Unless it changes its ideology, therefore, the corposystem will fail. It is not showing any signs of ideological change, and instead seems to be trying ever harder to grow ever faster, and in the process is destroying the ecosystem that feeds it. Growth in the absence of resources is the defining characteristic of a Ponzi scheme. The corposystem is reaching the end of its Ponzi run, because the earth no longer has the resources to support further growth of the corposystem.

People do see this, but when you mention that we are at the point where we must choose between the corposystem and a healthy ecosystem, it seems that most people don’t want to do the math and would rather believe the lies. Then they pour out a bunch of reasons why we can’t or they can’t, or they simply deny the fact and claim that “all statistics lie.” That’s a pretty feeble excuse. Statistics tell us whatever we ask. If you want to know whether or not we are at the point of making this decision, you yourself can get the data and ask the question. In the meantime, as Al Gore said in An Inconvenient Truth: “It’s just human nature to take time to connect the dots, I know that, but I also know there can come a time of reckoning when we wish we had connected the dots sooner.”

The corposystem is now on the verge of crashing permanently because its growth requires more resources than the earth has to offer. Survival of the corposystem in its present form is not one of our options, so there is no point continuing to support it with our greed, our anger or our fear.

The crash of the corposystem will be very unpleasant, because we (not you, but previous generations) let it run on to this point. It will indeed be a disaster, but we shouldn’t forget, while we are dealing with the fallout, that the event will open more opportunities than it closes. Those of us who do not enjoy living in a culture that is based in negative human values, we will have the option to pitch out greed as the defining value of our social structure, and build our communities around our positive human values – some of which are glorious.

And the greatest of these is kindness.

Nothing but the propaganda in our heads can stop us from beginning now to build our better lifestyles.

Bare Bones Biology 064 – Corposystem Power
KEOS FM, 89.1, Bryan, TX
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Hillman, James. 1995. Kinds of Power, Its Intelligent Uses. Doubleday