Monthly Archives: September 2011

What dream do you live in?

What Dream Do You Live In?

In his books on spirituality, Miguel Ruiz says we each live in a dream that seems so real we think of it as “reality.” Some of the dream we make up ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, but a lot of it we get from our families, our culture, and the mass media. This is the “consensual reality” that enables us to interact with each other without too much friction, at least in our own groups.

Political writer Richard Moore has a similar way of looking at this, based on the popular 1999 science fiction-action film “The Matrix.” The film depicts a future in which most humans are “living” in a simulated reality created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue them. They think they’re living fairly pleasant, active lives in 1999, but they’re actually floating passively in closely spaced pods 200 years later, their brains connected to towers that send them Matrix “information.” Neo, the film’s hero, becoming suspicious, is led to a man named Morpheus, who understands what’s going on. Morpheus offers Neo a choice of two pills: a blue one that will let him continue the “life” he’s known, and a red one that will allow him to learn the truth about the Matrix. Neo swallows the red pill, and is eventually drawn into a rebellion against the machines mounted by others freed from the Matrix dream world into reality.

Moore’s book, Escaping the Matrix, is a red pill that gives the reader an accurate description of the nightmarish reality behind recent history and suggests ways in which we could come together in a more positive, consciously chosen dream. Ruiz also advises us to become conscious of the dream(s) we’re living in, so that we can see how they work (or not) for us. He says we’ll always be living in a dream, but that, individually and collectively, we can consciously choose and create one that’s more “beautiful,” moment by moment. I’ll soon be creating pages for Moore and Ruiz, if you want to learn more – and, of course, you can always explore their work for yourself on www.escapingthematrix.org and www.miguelruiz.com.

It takes effort and conscious thought to escape our common nightmare matrix – and, since that “reality” will be pervasive as long as so many believe in it, our “escapes” have to be repeated over and over, moment by moment. At least, that’s been my experience. (The same is true for leaving the individual nightmare of your at least partially dysfunctional family and school conditioning.) It helps to remember that where you place your attention is where your energy will go. Avoiding mainstream news outlets like TV news is one of the things I do. Though I admit to watching “Survivor” – definitely not politically correct!

I’ll be writing more about all this in days to come, but for now I want to draw your attention to how the dream/matrix concept relates to the recent tenth anniversary of 9-11. This post is, in part at least, an introduction to that discussion – the subject of my next message to you. (Gotta get to it before September’s over!)

P.S. The film “The Matrix” is an example of utopian/dystopian fiction, a genre that, with its imagined visions of the future, can get us thinking creatively about how to make our present more like the future we want our kids and grandkids to inherit. I have a list of favorite utopian/dystopian novels, one of which was written by a close friend of mine, that I’ll be sharing with you in these posts and pages. Stay tuned!

The connection between spirituality and politics

…is that each needs the other.

To start, let’s define the terms. Politics, for me, is reading, listening, thinking, talking, and acting in almost any sphere. Spirituality is anything you think it might be that isn’t pre-canned, spoon-fed organized religion. A principled atheist (sometimes called a “humanist”) can be spiritual, whether he or she knows it or not. Conversely, a rote Christian, Jew, Muslim, or whatever who never thinks independently and/or demonizes other groups is not, at least in my book.

Politics without spirituality lacks grounding in values, caring, and a sense that we’re all connected and connected with the earth. Spirituality without politics (caring about what’s happening in the world and doing something about it) is solipsistic navel-gazing. More than one of my friends and much that I read tell me that peaceful meditators, even if they do nothing else, are contributing to the welfare of the world. If their meditation practice gives rise to inner balance and calm in the rest of their lives, that may be true in a narrow sense. They may be more loving and patient, and people who encounter them may come away feeling calmer and happier too. All good. But undemocratic and unequal global and national political/economic systems go right on destroying and hurting. Spiritual practice could gradually lead to more people questioning the right and necessity of these systems continuing to exist, but making spiritual practice the source for and temporary refuge from direct political – hopefully revolutionary – activity would be a whole lot better. That’s what I do, and what I hope you’re doing, too.

Hello, world!

Hello, world!

I’m looking for fellow humans dissatisfied with the way things in the world (and in the U.S. in particular) are going.

That probably includes a lot of people, so let’s narrow it down.

You, like me, hate to see unnecessary, human-inflicted suffering, especially in the current unnecessary wars. You see some connection with the corporate, capitalist economic system, which you’re guessing is also the reason some have so much while many have so little, and why our governments aren’t dealing with the threat of global warming and the destruction of the environment. Global financial crises are making you wonder how much longer the current economic system can last, and what will happen to your savings if and when it crashes. You’ve also heard the phrases “Peak Oil” and “energy descent,” and wonder what they’ll mean for you and your kids.

Our president, elected because we wanted fundamental changes in our political and economic systems and a fresh approach to these problems, hasn’t delivered. Neither has a gridlocked Congress, whose mostly wealthy members are too concerned with getting reelected, satisfying corporate sponsors, and pushing partisan agendas to worry about our well-being. Their votes are almost never in line with what polls say we, the American people, believe in and want. But we don’t have enough money to get elected in a system where only money “talks,” and our votes don’t count for much is a good cop/bad cop two-party system.

Lots to worry about, lots of reasons to feel discouraged, and worry (fear) and discouragement (powerlessness) are painful, so we try not to think about these things too much. Besides, what can we do?

Not much on our own, but a lot if we face our various realities and work together to change them. That means putting relatively unimportant differences aside and supporting and helping each other. Not something we learned how to do in an individualistic, dog-eat-dog system, in which the powers-that-be pit us against each other and scapegoat vulnerable groups. But something that we find is in our “human nature,” something that takes fear and discouragement away and feels pretty damn good.

If you’re still with me, I invite you to come along for the ride, and explore these ideas together, taking action we’ve talked about, and, eventually, creating a better world for our kids and grandkids – and all the other young and innocent beings depending on us. We’re not kids, and we’re not stupid. We’re responsible, intelligent adults, and, come hell or high water, we’re going to stand up and act like it!