I'm interested in relocalization and how to approach it so as to see the spiritual dimension of the changes we're in. I wrote this piece for my site (www.radicalrelocalization.com) and would love to be in conversation about it.
-- Evolutionary spirituality has moved
me for years now. I don't remember the first stirring that told me that
something big for me was there. One "hit" was first hearing about
collective intelligence, in an article by Craig Hamilton in What is
Enlightenment? magazine. The notion of collective intelligence
to what I feel or have felt in meditation and in groups, a sense of a
larger whole I'm a part of.
And I subscribed to and listened to
great swaths of audio from What is
Enlightenment and IntegralNaked to, Ken Wilber's
online series of interviews. I was excited by the ideas. I tuned into
Barbara Marx Hubbard's notions of conscious evolution and did one of
her early online waves of practice. And I read Michael Dowd's Thank God for Evolution, which was
filled with charming ideas and re-frames of the tradition I'd grown up
what did one do with all those great ideas? Go off to the factory and
make widgets with a higher consciousness? Do something modest, like
retail (Nisagardatta Maharaj had a little tobacco stand and he was one
of the revered sages of the twentieth century).
the Great Turning simply that we do the same stuff with a higher
consciousness? What did we actually do? Become a coach, was what I
figured out for myself, because I was a self-help junkie. No matter
that I was severely dislocated from the larger society in which the
people I would coach were working in. I was growing and learning, and
more comfortable in my skin than I'd been, but I wasn't "a success".
What was my integral work for?
I could see that I was shy and
nervous of exposure, half out and half in.
also think that the system is going to tumble like a house of cards.
it's a matter of time, of course, but I feel certain that the stresses,
absurdities and dead ends in the system are going to cause a profound
smack down. I'm not a depressive (well, I have been but that's not
driving my observation). It's deep in me to understand that the system
is cruising for a collapse. To say a "bruising" would be too mild. By
"system" I mean the entire human interconnected play of global resource
consumption in the service of our human development. It's not
sustainable literally; there aren 't sufficient resources. And our
climate choices are in danger of - in mortal danger of - compromising
the future for untold generations. No, this must not happen!
since it's the resource consumption, with its attendant carbon
outpouring, and the escalating spoliation
and dwindling of much of what's left, there's little doubt that,
impossible as it may seem and be, going small and local and frugal is
Very small, very local. Although we intellectually
appreciate the scale of our dependence on the global system, and on
fossil fuels, it's hard for us to get a visceral sense of it, one as
visceral as say, missing supper for one night. (Obviously I'm speaking
to the part of the world that assumes it's going to get supper, and
Small and local is the future. Relocalization.
is about being out there on evolution's edge, conscious of
that, moving with it with intention. All of its major practitioners
speak of the intensity of the transition we're in, the imminence of it,
the profundity of it.
But it looks as if, to deliver that
message, they're living the high consumption, fly where
you need to go, jet-set lifestyle that's the very opposite of small and
local future. From the outside at least, workshops in evolutionary
spirituality often assume that you're going to spend the GDP of an
village, or the daily wages of a Chinese factory to get yourself a few
days of that enlightenment.
I'm no stranger to this. In addition
decades collecting New Age cred as a full-time thing, just a week or two
met my partner Lynn I'd flown to the west coast of Canada from above
New York state to see a spiritual therapist guy whose book's I'd read.
I know that visit was part of whatever it was in me that was ready to
climb to a new me, one that included Lynn and the life we're finding
together. Not just our love, but the new frugality we're living and
talking about as part of what we do.
Riding that frugal edge
is riding our own human edge. It is real in the way that missing supper
can be real. It's painful at times, not because of not having enough -
I have enough - but because of the addictive power of the system we're
It's hard for us, me but also all of us, to see
how addicted we are to the system. We tend to take its assumptions for
ourselves even as we critique it. We live in the lifestyle that's
already doomed and dangerous, while speaking of the future. We live on
the merry-go-round and shout truisms about it to the sweet eyes we lock
in with as it goes round.
Still there are truths, and on
merry-go-rounds same as anywhere. If Lao Tzu were around today, he would
look on the carnival. Would he twitter, I wonder? Well we don't know,
but "my Lao Tzu" might very well. However, my Lao Tzu wouldn't
be attached, as he tweeted. His tweet haiku would doubtless inch down
the screen and be forgotten. Wendell Berry, arguably the most important
American writer of our time,isn't online, I hear. There's a Facebook
page for him though with lots of fans, most of whom I'm sure, realize
the irony. But he's still a fine writer, I can hear them saying, and
indeed, he is. Perhaps LaoTzu would tweet today and be gone tomorrow,
riding off on his donkey through yet another gate into an unknown
I was speaking about the system. Nowadays all the interesting questions
are about the relationship to
the system. For example, most mainstream media conversation I find
interesting - but not useful. But I love the places (like MediaLens)
which explore the border between what the media - the system - says and
what more impartial witnesses know to be true.
As peak oil and
climate change realities truly kick in, as they must, the
evolutionary edge itself will necessarily get more local, and small.
Perhaps it will meet Mr. and Mrs. America in their suburban yard,
trying to figure out how to grow a squash up against the south wall
when they've never really looked to see what kind of soil is there. We
will all look an African in the eye sometime in the future and wish we
had known sooner. Our sadness over the ocean will be very real. And for
all this nothing will really be different in the secret heart of
things. The love of father for daughter, and mother for son, and man for
woman will be as
strong. The stars will trace out the truth
of Big Time and our place in it as clearly then as they will tonight.
edge is real. We do understand what's come before with a
breadth and depth that is new and worthy of celebration. We know we're
cusp of a momentous change and that what we think and do, moment by
moment, counts as never before.
But the evolutionary perspective
can take even deeper root, informing people as they work together to
create resilient, sustainable
economies, and as soon as possible.
What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?
This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.
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