Tikkun Magazine

Aries: why I love being one

<April 22/11.>

Aries is the astrological sign of people born between the dates of March 21st & April 19th. (In the Earth Medicine system, Aries corresponds to Falcon.)

Not everyone “believes in” astrology. I didn’t used to either. After reading two Linda Goodman books, Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs & Linda Goodman’s Love Signs, though, & learning the extraordinarily accurate ways in which she describes people & relationships, I signed on! (It’s eerie, even, at times, how much she pegs certain astrological combinations! I also sometimes find Rob Brezsny’s horoscopes eerily prescient – not to mention gorgeously written. & fun!!)

Aries people are said to be the “infants of the zodiac.” It’s a rather fun sign to be!

When we are happy, like an infant, we smile. When pricked, we scream. Our moods change quickly, & we're unable to stay mad for very long. Bad temper is always gone quickly, like a summer storm. (It may be pretty intense – but it passes fast!)

Infants (& Aries people) live in the moment. We don’t spend our time (for the most part) lingering over past events, resentments & hurts. We don’t put off living today because we’re dreaming about some imagined future, good or bad, either.

We are, in general, right here, right now. It isn’t always fun – & it’s often intense – in a good way, I think.

We are very easy to please! (Not always, of course. Like anyone, we can take situations & people “for granted.” But we can also be – like a child – easy to make smile, & laugh. We’re kids! We can fly by the seat of our pants & enjoy the unpredictable ride while we’re at it.)

I’d been considering writing an essay called “Planning Sucks.”

I know (& love) people who spend so much time planning every move from here to next Tuesday, that they fail to notice a beautiful flower, or birdsong, or cloud formation, or a laughing child, or … almost anything, really, they’re so busy making methodical plans for everything they’re going to do today & next week & next year – meanwhile risking pretty much missing out on every moment that is actually taking place here & now. (Well, I’m exaggerating a wee bit, of course. For sure, though, over-thinking does seem to be a fairly widespread disease.)

Now, if you’re an engineer &/or are in the business of building bridges & nuclear plants & such, I definitely definitely DO want to feel certain you are a very good planner!! ‘Cos if you screw up, we won’t all just have a bad day, we could lose our lives or compromise the DNA of millions of people currently alive on the planet (& all future humans, too).

Actually, this is why I do anti-nuclear work. No one has yet figured out a) how to build a nuclear plant that can be absolutely 100% relied upon not to blow up & b) how to keep nuke plants’ deadly wastes safeguarded for a million years.

Since most of us are unable to keep our own lives “on track” for even half an hour (the GO train I'm currently travelling on, as I write these words, could de-rail, the bus I plan to take after the train ride may crash; who really knows what lies ahead???), I am rather grateful to be an Aries person whose very nature seems to consist of being right here, right now – sucking up the good stuff (& the “bad”), & not missing most of it because I’m somewhere else, past or future-surfing.


p.s. Gotta admit, I haven’t always been as good at just letting things happen as I am now! Couple of things have helped. One was having my life pretty much blow up in my face (an unexpected divorce). When you learn that you really don’t run even your very own “show,” new perspective has a miraculous way of dawning. Secondly, a lot of years went by. Nothing like age to soften the edges!!

‘Quote of the day’: “…the goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way – outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing”… because these activities "preclude awareness of the Divine.” – Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in his book I’m God, You’re Not (reviewed in Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011 issue, their 25th anniversary issue!! Theme: ‘Transforming the World’)


Tolle Tutorial: Thanks, Eckhart!!

<March 5/11>

When I first started up this blog, I mentioned Eckhart Tolle pretty routinely. I’m a very big fan of his books & his ideas.

It’s almost as though I’d forgotten about him!

Just recently – this past week – I sort of stumbled across some of his audiotapes, & am I ever glad I did!

I’ve just listened to the 3 tapes in the set called “Living the Liberated Life & Dealing with the Pain Body.” Soooooooooo helpful to get this little “Tolle tutorial.”

I needed to be reminded of how the pain body works, since my own has made an unexpected appearance or two of late.

(Tolle talks about the pain body in his two books, The Power of Now & A New Earth. You can also watch him talk about it on YouTube, & watch the very cool series of Webcasts he did with Oprah.)

I personally needed to be reminded not to resist the feelings that come up in me – but to allow them. Surrender to them. (I think we all resist some feelings that come up in us at times. Yet they do seem to pass through us a lot more quickly if we just admit to them, perhaps articulate them (right out loud, even!) if we are able. I find this helpful, anyway, but maybe that’s just me. For example, “Hmmmm. I’m feeling very sad/lonely/resentful/angry/bitter.” Before I know it, the uncomfortable feelings are usually gone!)

Tolle reminds us that saying to ourselves “This too will pass” can be very helpful. And he’s right. It is! I’ve definitely been wrestling lately with some…shall we say, challenging or uncomfortable feelings. When I stand back from them a bit – sort of try to “witness” what I am feeling from a slight distance (rather than getting completely…overtaken by them), it all becomes a bit less …. intense.

Tolle is an awfully helpful dude, I gotta say (& that’s a pretty major understatement).

If you haven’t yet read him, or seen the Webcasts, or listened to some of his audiotapes, you have a rare treat awaiting you!

(Me, I’m feeling a bit less overwhelmed by the feelings of resentment & sadness that were sort of plaguing me for a few days there.)

Thanks a bunch for the tutorial, Eckhart!!


p.s. Other blog postings here about Tolle are:

I DO recommend his books very highly (& also his audiotapes, available through Sounds True).

His words are both inspiring & a great source of comfort. I wouldn’t lie to you!

p.p.s. Some interesting words about the ego, from a book review in the Winter 2011 issue of Tikkun Magazine. On the back page of the magazine, in a review of the book I’m God, You’re Not, by Lawrence Kushner, the reviewer says “Kushner teaches us that ‘the goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way – outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing’ because these activities ‘preclude the awareness of the Divine.’” Sounds true, doesn’t it??

Inside Job – The Film

** please please please check out the Don Henley CD by the same name! Awesome lyrics, wonderful music. It is a must-listen! (one of my favourites on that CD is the song "Goodbye to a River.")

Note on March 13th: This is now available on DVD.

Last week a friend whose opinions I greatly value sent out an email message promoting the film “Inside Job” (narrated by Matt Damon). Trailer here Reviews here

So I went to see it last night, here in Toronto.

I’m now recommending that anyone & everyone go & see this film (thanks, Sandra!!)

Just Google it to see if it’s on in your city or town.

I’ve always been extraordinarily dense about how financial matters work – perhaps mostly because they have never interested me much. I know I’m smart enough that if I really wanted to understand them, I could. But I’m kind of busy with a variety of other issues, so… this one just doesn’t usually get onto my radar screen.

But I reckon we all need to understand the fallout from the insane financial shenanigans of the folks in the U.S. whose insane greed is so over the top that it occurs to me this morning that they are actually downright demented! (The blog post ‘The Inmates & The Asylum’ may be of some relevance here.) These sick puppies are running the whole show. Heaven help us all!?!?!?

Greed is a common enough human phenomenon, of course. Many of us suffer from the more-more-more disease, & the fallacy that if we buy & have lots more “stuff,” it will make us feel better inside. It all traces back to those not-very-affirming or wonderful (& usually highly neurotic) childhoods so many of us experienced. Of course patriarchy plays into it too. & our vastly mixed up culture. It’s complicated, eh? (Well, hmmm, it’s not really all that complicated to understand. To deal with it, though, is time-consuming & challenging. And yet, is there really any other game in town???)

Well. This film is about the financial world colluding in its indescribable & insatiable greed – with, of course, full cooperation from the folks in the White House – to line their own pockets with so much money & leave the rest of us in the dust (“let them eat cake,” more or less, eh?) to the point that millions were left unemployed & losing homes – & on & on this sick, horrid saga goes, to this very day – with the Obama administration’s stamp of approval, unfortunately…& no end in sight.

On the up side? People of integrity made this film. People of integrity within the economic/financial world were interviewed for the film, & they tell us the truth. These people of integrity probably hope other people of integrity will become impassioned about this sorry state of affairs & become involved in trying to change things.

Author/entrepreneur/environmental activist Paul Hawken once said “You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing.”

I put it to everyone that, as an old saying goes, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”


P.S. And I recommend that folks in the U.S. look into the very awesome group, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, & learn about their principles, conferences, Tikkun Magazine, etc. This group is run by & is chockfull of people of tremendous integrity, with oodles of great ideas for change. They could use your help & support (& you can use theirs!)

P.P.S. Happiness is another thing that’s an “inside job,” hmmm?

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “The miracle is this the more we share, the more we have.” ~ Leonard Nimoy

Closest runner-up for ‘Quote of the day’: “The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring.” ~ F.H. Bradley

Other runners-up: “These are the days when men of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek the comfortable and the accepted; when the man of controversy is looked upon as a disturbing influence; when originality is taken to be a mark of instability; and when, in minor modification of the original parable, the bland lead the bland.” – Economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) in The Affluent Society.

“One of the things I argue in my book [A Journey Through Economic Time] is the extent to which people go to avoid rational decisions – the very large role of mental deficiency in economic history.Generally, people have been very resistant to attributing a causal role in history to stupidity.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

“The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Pg. 115>



“The Earth is not dying – it is being killed. And the people who are killing it have names and addresses.” U. Utah Phillips quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Pg. 115>




Christmas: Book, Music, Film, & Magazine Tips!!

I am a serious book addict – & make no apologies about this. I’d venture to say the world might be more than just a little better off if lotsa folks would sit down more often with a good book & spend a whole lot less time in front of the tube (which my father used to call the “idiot box”).

Under the 'Recommended' tab on this blog are a couple lists of books that I recommend very highly – ‘Books That Could Change Your Life!’ & ‘Books That Could Change the World!’

I just want to very quickly name one super-special, off-the-charts fantastic & utterly timely book, plus one film & one CD & one magazine - any one of which would be a great thing to spend a little of your Christmas cash on. Buy ‘em for yourself, buy ‘em as gifts & share ‘em around…whatever!!

  1. Eaarth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet – by Bill McKibben. Absolutely essential reading for women, men, children, & human beings of any & all persuasions – but only if you/they give a darn about the fate of this Earth (& our own fate) in the days to come! Read it, gift it, donate a copy to your local library, & maybe give one to a politician you trust (is that an oxymoron??? Not quite, I hope…)
  2. The Louise Hay DVD ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ is a very special one that I have plugged before. I gave copies as Christmas presents one year (& donated a copy to the local library, too). The film is a really fine, healing treasure.
  3. Last year around this time I put in a plug for the CD ‘Amchitka’ that raises funds for Greenpeace. Crazily enough, I still don’t own a copy myself – but I sure do recommend it to anyone & everyone out there! Fabulous music, fantastic group to support.
  4. Tikkun Magazine – a publication of the Network of Spiritual Progressives – is intelligent, thoughtful, insightful, & get-you-off-your-chair inspirational. (The word “tikkun,” btw, means to mend, repair & transform the world.) I wish everyone in the world would join & support the NSP & learn about the group’s ESRA – Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, & also their Global Marshall Plan. Check them out at the NSP Web site. (& btw, donating a subscription to a really great magazine to a local library is something I’ve done now in 2 small towns. The library is always very grateful!!)


P.S. on Dec 27th: Another must-read book alert!!! Disconnect, by Devra Davis. "The truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry has done to hide it, and how to protect your family." Thanks to a gift certificate from my buddy Roof - I mean Ruth - I just bought this book yesterday. Yikes!!!!!!!!!! Please please please read it - & spread the word!! (only if U care about your own & your family's health, of course...) YouTube here. Book review here

P.P.S. It is almost painful for me not to also reference Eckhart Tolle & Pema Chödrön & Byron Katie & Joanna Macy & Elizabeth Lesser – whose books & wisdom mean such a great deal to me. & Anne Tyler & Barbara Kingsolver & Kurt Vonnegut (whose books & wisdom I also value greatly) & Alice Miller & Christiane Northrup & her buddy Mona Lisa Schulz – whose books inform & inspire me greatly. & Anne Lamott & Rachel Naomi Remen &, oh dear me….writers far too numerous to list!? (Margaret Atwood & Margaret Drabble also among them….) Do, do, do check out my recommended reading lists at the links provided above!!! (please note that these focus on non-fiction gems. My list of favoured fiction writers is a little too vast to attempt to wrestle with!?!?!?)

Quit Bitching. Start a Revolution!

I saw these words on a T-shirt when I was in Washington, D.C. earlier this year for the conference of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. (Fabulous conference, awesome group of people!)

Then, I saw it again a few weeks later in Toronto at the G20 gatherings of activists.

I love it! I’d love to have one myself. Or 20. If I had one, I’d wear it often. If I had 20, I’d hand them out to the folks I encounter who are armchair quarterbacks about the state of the world, always sitting in their comfy chairs pronouncing on what a godawful mess everything is – yet never doing a bloody thing beyond flapping their lips about it.

Get off your butt!” I want to say to such people.

If the world is ever going to change, it won’t be the result of people sitting in their comfortable living rooms, bitching & bellyaching & moaning about the state of the world. Will it? I ask you…

Martin Luther King said, “Change is never inevitable, change is always carried in on the shoulders of those who bring change with them.”

Harold Zindler said, “The optimism of the action is better than the pessimism of the thought.”

A button I’m wearing on my coat these days says, “If the people lead, eventually, the leaders will follow.”

For sure, I can’t guarantee that getting off your butt will “save” the world, although it is liable to change it. (Martin Luther King also said “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as cooperation with good.” An important thing to consider at this time on Planet Earth, I’d say. At this time in Canada, for sure…)

When we change our minds, i.e., change ourselves, from the in-side out, we do change the world.

Edward Everett Hale said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Activism is fun. It’s challenging & rewarding & time-consuming & fun.

Alice Walker says, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.”

I suspect my life is a lot fun-er than lots of people’s. I don’t live like a rodent on a treadmill, running around & around, inside the bars of a cage, unaware all the while that the cage door is actually open, & that all one really has to do is climb off the treadmill, & walk out. (Life is a heck of a lot more fun, outside the cage!)

2 more things:

1. John Adorney sings a very beautiful song (en français) on his lovely CD The Fountain.” The words go “If you know the truth, you’ll find freedom. And you’ll be free like the wind, tous le temps (all the time).” It sounds so much better in French!! You can listen to it here

Beautiful song, truthful lyrics. Truth is hard sometimes, but it is liberating. There’s only one way to find out for yourself. Start seeking out, & telling – & living – the truth!

2. The latest (Nov/Dec. 2010) issue of Tikkun Magazine is a page-turner! Check it out, man! And woman! Some very hard truths in it about how & why John F. Kennedy & Robert Kennedy & Martin Luther King were killed. And why Obama is not able to be the President millions voted for. And the realities of the military-industrial complex (heaven help us all…).

It isn’t fun, exactly, learning this stuff, but it’s…bracing. It’s a kick in the pants, & there are times for all of us, I suspect, when the very thing we need is a good swift kick in the pants.

Do seek out this issue of Tikkun. Learn some truth!

This world of ours – so badly damaged & depleted it makes a person heartsick – is still a very beautiful one. It’s worth fighting for (working for)…don’t you think?


p.s. Apparently, there was a song from the 60’s or 70’s, in which some guy named Gil Scott Heron said, “The revolution will not be televised.” Now, ain’t that the truth?? You will not learn about – & contribute to – changing the world, sitting in that comfy chair in your comfy living room. Nossiree…

p.p.s. Having a hard time picking a ‘Quote for the day’ to go with this post. Here are a few that are in the running:

“I can’t understand why people are afraid of new ideas, I’m afraid of the old ones.” – John Cage

“Saving our civilization is not a spectator sport.” – Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute)

“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back -- but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman

“What’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains.” ~ from the film ‘Home: A Hymn for the Planet

“The message, so firmly, is – don’t give up. Don’t hang with the cynics, the angry-hearted, the whiners, the blamers, the negative minded. Hang with those who believe in love, hope, and beauty – and then work with them to make this a reality. This is our planet. This is our time. This is our call to action.” ~ Guy Dauncey, author of The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” – Carl Sagan, astronomer (1934 – 1996).

“Once you know the difference between right and wrong, you have lots fewer decisions to make.” – Joseph Campbell, quoted in the biography A Fire in the Mind – The Life of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“We are now at the stage when the Easter Islanders could still have halted the senseless cutting and carving, could have gathered the last trees’ seeds to plant out of reach of the rats. We have the tools and the means to share resources, clean up pollution, dispense basic health care and birth control, set economic limits in line with natural ones. If we don’t do these things now, while we prosper, we will never be able to do them when times get hard. Our fate will twist out of our hands. And this new century will not grow very old before we enter an age of chaos and collapse that will dwarf all the dark ages in our past. Now is the time to get the future right.” – Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress

“A lot of people say, ‘What’s the point?’ That’s an excuse for inaction. I’d rather put a drop in the bucket than nothing at all, and every drop adds up.” ~ Jonathan Brock, on his work for Doctors Without Borders

  • “We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” – Thomas Berry in The Great Work – Our Way into the Future, page 175

“The future is ours to write.” – Dr. Rosalie Bertell in Sweeping the Earth – Women Taking Action for a Healthy Planet

(I could go on…)

NSP: ESRA, the Global Marshall Plan & Tikkun

The Network of Spiritual Progressives is a very fine conglomeration of U.S.-based progressive thinkers whose Washington conference I attended a few months ago (June 2010). Totally awesome conference, speakers, & experience. Totally glad I went!!

Along with my conference fee, I’ve been given a one-year subscription to the NSP’s fantastic magazine, Tikkun.

(Tikkun, btw, pronounced tee-kun, means to mend, repair & transform the world.)

More cool stuff about NSP than I really have time to articulate right now, since I’m mostly focused on something else entirely.

But wanted you to know a few things about NSP & Tikkun:

You definitely want to check out the Network of Spiritual Progressives & Tikkun magazine; trust me!!


Team Sports

<drafted June 14/10>

I’m about to write a blog post called ‘Plan B.’ (just have to read the book first!)

Simply reading the book’s acknowledgments has prompted this particular post. Hooey, did it take a lot of people to get Lester Brown’s book Plan B 4.0 – Mobilizing to Save Civilization into my hands!?

Modern civilization (using the term loosely, as I like to joke, since there is much about modern life that is very un-civil indeed) has been all about the ‘Everything is all about me’ ethic, hasn’t it? (I wrote about this in an essay called ‘Everything is all about ME, right?’)

I personally have never been much of a sports fan, truth to tell. Competition has just never really turned my crank. Not that I’m not interested in fitness – I love to walk, bike, swim & snowshoe. I’m just not very competitive.

The blog posting ‘G is for Gatekeeper talks a little about my contention that changing the world is not a competition, but very much a team sport.

I’ve been trying to “save the world,” one way & another, ever since I was about 14 years old (43 years & counting!) & am I ever in great company!! Awesome company.

I love the work I do. It’s challenging, rewarding, & fun.

But it took me until last Fall to actually articulate for myself the following thought:

Not only is everything not about me, I am not even here for me! My “own” life is not really “mine” at all!

That probably sounds a little weird & fruity to at least some readers, so I apologize. It is an almost embarrassing thought to articulate in this (western?) culture of ours that is so dominated by what we all want as individuals.

But it seems to me it’s time I came out of the closet about this.

It isn’t just hockey & football & baseball & soccer that are team sports.

It isn’t just changing the world that is a team sport.

It isn’t just family life that is a team sport – although clearly family life is all about team effort & love & unselfishness & the ability to embrace diversity.

& it isn’t just politics that ought to be a team sport, instead of an adversarial game in which the people it is supposed to serve are treated as unwitting money providers & sacrificial lambs &/or cannon fodder to immoral “leaders” who have anything but our best interests in mind.

Life is a team sport.

None of us is here just for our own little self. (Actually, I don’t think our “selves” are “little” at all. I think we are – or certainly have the potential to be – very, very big indeed. Vast, actually. But you know what I mean…)

And if a whole lot more of us had “gotten” this a whole lot of years ago, my-oh-my what a different world this would be, hmmm?

But we didn’t get it.

Are we starting to get it now??


P.S. Tikkun (pronounced tea-kün, more or less…) Magazine’s May/June 2010 issue highlights “Environmentalism without Spirituality.” I really enjoyed David Loy & Mark Hathaway’s articles in the magazine. Great to get a better grasp of the weaknesses & strong points of both eastern & western ideas/philosophy. I hadn’t read Tikkun before the NSP conference in Washington. It’s one to pick up, for sure! (Tikkun, btw, means to mend, repair and transform the world.)

U.S. Health Care: situation, not system

On Sunday, June 13th, I did something very fun.

Along with a whole bunch of other folks concerned about the state of life in the U.S.A. (& the rest of the world) - all of us attendees at the Washington, D.C. conference of the Network of Spiritual Progressives - I took part in a rally at the White House.

Our purpose? To tell President Obama that millions of people in the U.S. want him to "be the Obama we voted for.”

There were several fiery & inspiring speakers, & the event was great.

Dr. Margaret Flowers – a Maryland pediatrician who is currently the Congressional Fellow of Physicians for a National Health Program – articulated a passionate plea for a single-payer health care system.

Dr. Flowers described the current health care scene as a situation – not a system.

She said the recent so-called health care debate was no debate at all, but a sham that was all scripted out ahead of time.

(This is a good spot for me to admit to a considerable lack of knowledge about the American health care scene; I’m Canadian, remember?)

What the members of the social justice movement are saying about the health care…situation is that what this new scheme is calculated to do is enrich the very people who were part of the problem in the first place (the insurance companies, hmmm?)

I understand there is a powerful YouTube of Dr. Flowers discussing the health care scene in the U.S., although I haven’t yet seen it myself.

Check it out!

Then, if you are an American citizen, join the movement to create a REAL health care system.

Dr. Flowers says it needs to be ICU – independent, clear & uncompromising. She is so passionate about this, as a mother with young children, that she has been arrested as a result of her activism.

Thank you, Dr. Flowers!!


P.S. Dr. Flowers has an article in the May/June 2010 issue of Tikkun Magazine. Her article is about this very topic, & since the magazine is a good one, why not check it out? (Tikkun, pronounced tea-kün, more or less, means to mend, repair and transform the world.)