Occasionally I will post things here that have recently come to my attention. I often receive information from friends and colleagues in the form of news articles, videos, poems, quotes and images – all kinds of things that are of interest from a Dharmagaian perspective. Since I am in the habit of collecting topical information from the web for the links pages of Dharmagaians.org, I am presenting such information in more-or-less the same style for this blog, or at least for this post.
My intention with ‘Discoveries of the Week’ is not to cover all the news of the last week, but to share what caught my attention as relevant from a Dharmagaian Big Picture perspective. These are events and writings that relate to but are not covered in the Dharmagaians.org website, but could be considered supplemental to it. Since this is the first time I have posted ‘Discoveries of the Week,’ I can’t promise that I will do this every week. I probably won’t. But this past week was particularly interesting.
As we know, we live in “interesting times,” and the saying, “May you live in interesting times” is actually said to be a Chinese curse. Astrologers (of which I am a non-practicing one) are paying very close attention to what’s going on in the skies and how happenings ‘up there’ are reflected in what’s happening ‘down here.’ Right now, according to astrologers I respect, we are experiencing the most powerful paradigm-changing astrological influences of our lifetime – and this is true even for someone born during World War II, as I was. Some say significant events ‘down here’ began on April 20 with the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but the astrological intensity began to ramp up with a lunar eclipse on June 26, followed by a solar eclipse on July 11, and last Monday’s powerful Full Moon on July 26 at 1:38 U.T.
A Time of Unveiling
One of the astrological aspects, which began right on the day of the November 2008 election, is an oppositional dance between Saturn and Uranus – one planet representing government, structure and the status quo (Saturn), the other representing sudden change, revelation and revolution (Uranus). The last of five exact oppositions between Saturn and Uranus happened to fall on July 26, the day of the Full Moon (a full moon is a point of culmination); and this opposition happened to occur on the “Aries Point,” at 0 degrees Aries (the first degree of the zodiac), which is a powerful degree representing new beginnings. Some astrologers describe this as a time of “unveiling of secrets” – of revelations and disclosures.
Goodness knows, there are plenty of secrets, lies and illusions to unveil that have accumulated during just the last ten or twelve years – not to mention during the last 5,000 years of Western Civilization. A time of unveiling strips away illusions and uncovers that which has been hidden, which can create disruption and confusion, but can also bring awakening and liberation in relation to stagnant or corrupt situations. As if to provide a preview of what was to come, on July 19, a week before the Full Moon, the Washington Post published Top Secret America, an investigative report on the massive, unmanageable, unbelievably expensive, outsourced US Intelligence system. Democracy Now! covered the publication of this story the same day.
On Sunday , July 25, a few hours before the Full Moon, WikiLeaks released its explosive leaked documents on the war in Afghanistan, which were simultaneously published in the New York Times, The Guardian (UK), and Der Spiegel (Germany). That was a powerful unveiling that anybody paying any attention at all has probably heard about. Here are two of the Democracy Now! programs on WikiLeaks:
The New Pentagon Papers: WikiLeaks Releases 90,000+ Secret Military Documents Painting Devastating Picture of Afghanistan War 26 July, 2010 – It’s one of the biggest leaks in US military history. More than 90,000 internal records of US military actions in Afghanistan over the past six years have been published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. We host a roundtable discussion with independent British journalist Stephen Grey; Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg; former State Department official in Afghanistan, Matthew Hoh; independent journalist Rick Rowley; and investigative historian Gareth Porter.
On July 30, Eric Francis published an interesting astrological analysis of the WikiLeaks event and Assange in Clearing the Smog of War. People who value the truth as a support for life and sanity, as Francis and other Dharmagaians do, celebrate the long-awaited time of unveiling. (See Deception, Corruption and Truth.) Some of us admire Assange and WikiLeaks for courageously breaking through the secrecy about the war crimes committed by the United States.
But the WikiLeaks leak was not the only revelation during the last week. The New York Times provided another one on July 29: Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been Dumping Site. Eric Francis, who had already researched and reported on this, summarized the story in this way:
The New York Times today reported that the Gulf of Mexico for decades was used as a bomb dumping ground by warships returning to port after military operations. While this really involves all coastal waters in the United States, the untold thousands of oil rigs and capped wells in the Gulf of Mexico — combined with the BP blowout — make this a pretty important story.
That the US military has been using the Gulf of Mexico as a dump for unexploded ordinance, as shameful as it is, has not been a secret. What is noteworthy is that the New York Times finally reported it. The unfolding horror of the BP crime/tragedy and other crimes against wildlife and marine ecosystems in the Gulf and beyond – and yes, against the people, too – seems endless. But then the following story, which also came out on Thursday, revealed that the food chain in the oceans of the world is in serious decline, which increased my sense of sorrow and dread for the oceans even more:
Are Our Oceans Dying? by The Daily Mail/UK, July 29, 2010 - Headline: Phytoplankton has Declined Terrifying 40% in 60 Years. Microscopic marine algae which form the basis of the ocean food chain are dying at a terrifying rate, scientists said today. Phytoplankton, described as the ‘fuel’ on which marine ecosystems run, are experiencing declines of about 1 per cent of the average total a year. According to the researchers from Dalhousie University in Canada the annual falls translate to a 40 per cent drop in phytoplankton since 1950. The research into phytoplankton comes as a separate report today offered evidence that the world has been warming for the past 30 years. The reduction in the amount of algae in the seas could have an impact on a wide range of species, from tiny zooplankton to marine mammals, seabirds, fish and humans. If confirmed, the decline of the phytoplankton would be a more dramatic change to nature’s delicate balance than the loss of the tropical rainforests, scientist said. The research, published in the journal Nature, said the declines were linked to rising sea-surface temperatures and changes in the conditions of the ocean, particularly close to the equator. Most of the declines were seen in polar and tropical regions and in the open ocean, where most phytoplankton are produced.
For me, the extinction of species, the death of the oceans, and deforestation are the most grievous, heart-wrenching, dispiriting facts of the Big Picture in our time. Following the news of ongoing catastrophes in the natural world for the last three decades has brought a gravity to my outlook that never goes away. But there are also events that will more immediately affect my life and the lives of everyone I know – events such as the decline in fossil fuels and other resources, and the consequences of those declines for the global economy and industrial civilization. Yesterday I heard the following interviews, which provide excellent descriptions of the Big Picture for energy, and are also very sobering:
James J. Puplava converses with Matthew R. Simmons, Oliver Inderwildi, and Dr. Robert Hirsch, July 31, 2010, about Peak Oil, Saudi Arabia’s halt to oil exploration, the BP oil spill, and the “nightmare scenario” that is emerging in the United States and the world. Simmons and Hirsch are two of the most widely respected and quoted ‘experts’ in the Peak Oil community. (Hirsch’s interview starts at 48 min.±)
Rousing the Spirit
A time of unveiling not only brings deception and corruption to light, with the hope of eventual justice, but also reveals heartbreaking truths about the state of the world that seem to be beyond human intervention. We are entering a ‘nightmare scenario’ that is demolishing our arrogant delusions about control over Nature. This is an aspect of the Great Turning that offers the potential for grounded sanity for those who are willing to shed culturally conditioned illusions. Rather than succumb to denial or despair, hopelessness or depression when facing the dire prospects for humanity and the Earth, Dharmagaians turn to Nature and each other for inspiration and fortitude.
Recently someone sent me a lovely Mary Oliver poem, which led me to the Panhala archive of selected poems – a wonderful resource for Dharmagaian poetry. There I found the following:
Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?
By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.
And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses –
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.
~ Anna Akhmatova ~
(Poems of Akhmatova, edited and translated by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward)
The ‘miraculous something wild in our breast for centuries’ is what I wrote of in The Animistic Soul Re-Emerges. When we allow Nature to awaken and evoke our ancient, primal, animistic souls, which reconnect us with each other and all of life, we cannot despair. Synchronistically, on Friday Dennis Rivers sent me the link for Songs for the Great Turning, a source of rousing eco-spiritual songs, and there I discovered the gorgeous songs of Sara Thomsen, such as By Breath, which by itself restored my heart to wholeness. Yesterday my Dharmagaian sister Hildy Maze sent me the link for this stirring song:
Pete Seeger Live – New Protest Song About BP Oil Spill in Gulf Coast on Banjo w/ James Maddock Guitar July 30, 2010 – On July 23th 2010, an aged Pete Seeger performed live at a Gulf Coast Oil Spill fundraiser at The City Winery in New York City. There, he unveiled to the public his new protest song about the BP oil spill entitled “God’s Counting on Me, God’s Counting on You.”
This is the last verse, by which time the audience is singing along:
When we sing with younger folks, we can never give up hope
God’s counting on me, God’s counting on you
When we sing with younger folks, we can never give up hope
God’s counting on me, God’s counting on you
Hopin’ we’ll all pull through, Hoping we’ll all pull through,
Hopin’ we’ll all pull through
Me and you.
These songs by Thomsen and Seeger touched my heart, and I believe that keeping our hearts open to being touched by life is the key to the survival of humanity and the natural world. Dennis Rivers describes his own eco-spiritual journey of the heart beautifully in:
An Ecology of Devotion: a Personal Exploration of Reverence for Life by Dennis Rivers – Excerpt:
In this essay I will explore a five-fold vision of what might be called an ecology of devotion: a way of seeing how our various loves, concerns, gratitudes, adorations and celebrations are all part of a larger organic unity.
These many loves and concerns call to us, often in a chaotic din, urging us forward in many directions, appealing to us at many levels: friends need comfort, a new baby is born, the forests are dying, the dolphins are beaching, millions of landmines wait silently for human or animal footstep. Where and how shall we turn toward life and begin (or continue) the labors of “mending the world,” the Tikkun Olam of Jewish tradition, which would also constitute the mending of our own broken hearts? As I have experienced the web of life being threatened by the explosive mix of greed, fear and technology, I have been challenged to find inside myself a love stronger than all fears, a deeper reverence for life that could be my compass through the chaos of a world unraveling…. (Also available as a PDF.)
I hope these discoveries help you to have the courage and the openness of heart to face the truth of our time and to respond in a way that serves life. Please let us know if they do.
Thanks to Hildy Maze and Susanne Vincent for their excellent research and warm companionship on the journey.