June 22nd, 2012
Image: As Above #4
Are you experienced? Sharing this personal essay about tripping as a teenager, which came out in Reality Sandwich this week. Bring back any memories for you? Thoughts? I wish to engage in dialogue with people about transcendent personal experiences. I find people are shy to speak of such things. But please do speak of them anyway!
Read it here
Comment here or on the Reality Sandwich site.
February 29th, 2012
Hankering for a whole new world? Well, Dr. Marcy Axness' Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers is your ticket: it highlights all that's amiss in how we currently raise children in America and models an emerging holistic worldview in which human beings can blossom into confident, benevolent people.
Dr. Axness reminds us that "we are the soil in which our children grow." Are we spiritually developed and psychologically mature enough to provide the conditions that truly nourish our babies and children?
Discussing every aspect of parenting from how biological life unfolds to how teenagers can be respectfully supported in their pressures, challenges and growth, Axness' brilliant synthesis makes it clear that parenting must be front and center in any successful movement for widespread social wellness. By "taking responsibility for how we invite in, welcome and incarnate our next generation" we engage in social action, and put ourselves in charge of change.
This witty, poetic, fact-loaded and wise book reveals and exposes all the ways people are currently damaging youth, specifically in contemporary Western-style society. It also suggests just how swiftly and comprehensively mothers and fathers who are parenting for peace can revolutionize our world through a conscious, concerted approach.
You'll also understand the details of why we must revise the way we carry, birth, and engage with children at every stage of their development and, to do so, how we must swim against strong social currents that have deliberately undermined the holistic health of children to make for good workers and consumers, to ensure social stability for a corporate state.
Dr. Axness' deep, comprehensive and effective questioning of contemporary medical, educational, and ideological social mores and establishments calls upon parents to turn the tide.
Axness acknowledges that parenting for peace is the most important and challenging job of your life; "this ideal of parenting for a generation of peacemakers is so demanding, so sophisticated, and demands such a level of maturity, we are culturally only now barely up to the task."
And yet, in many ways, this daunting and demanding task calls upon us merely to be more loving, aware, easeful and natural. Axness teaches us how to gauge ourselves in the midst of our greatest challenges. At the end of each chapter, there are age-specific tips for embodying and practicing the central principles of her teaching: presence, awareness, rhythm, example, nurturance, trust, and simplicity (P.A.R.E.N.T.S.).
By the end of this paradigm-busting book, you will know that every opportunity to bring physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual security and well-being to a child is a powerful action in service to the living world.
Listen to our interview with Marcy (September 2008) here.
She also appears in our special program Where's the Imagination?
©2012 Jari Chevalier
Paperback: 443 pages
Publisher: Sentient Publications (January 30, 2012)
April 6th, 2011
Four thousand people attended the largest annual conference of left and progressive intellectuals in the world over the weekend of March 18-20, 2011. It was the 7th annual Left Forum, at Pace University in lower Manhattan. A thousand speakers, 300 workshops, panels and dialogues on international politics, class war, social justice issues, corporate abuse of power and the ravages of financial deregulation attracted academics, anti-capitalists, socialists, artists, journalists, activists and anarchists to forge bonds of solidarity for social change. They had their choice of up to 45 panel discussions per seven program periods, plus two stellar plenary presentations covering the conference theme “Towards a Politics of Solidarity”.
Internationally known presenters such as Richard Wolff, Stanley Aronowitz, Cornel West, Laura Flanders, Barbara Ehrenreich, Francis Fox Piven, Benjamin Barber, John Nichols and The Yes Men, keen-sighted and eloquent in their analyses and reportage of problems, activists working for change, graced the conference mainstage.
So why were only a few presentations really strong on inspiration and insight for how to foster growing unity among progressives, how to build consensus on outlook and method to bring unity of action to fruition?
For the most part, I heard the need for solidarity answered with a call for solidarity, a need for a new paradigm with a call for a new paradigm. In the face of mounting world catastrophes and collapses, this is just a little like singing, “100 bottles of beer on the wall” together.
I suspect even right-wing spies who no doubt sat among us were underwhelmed by such tautologies. What could they report back that the leftists were planning to do? Top secret: They say they’re going to get together and take down power systems, make demands for multiracial, multicultural harmonious living, end top-down ersatz democracy, rid societies of oppression and exploitation, create equal opportunity and abundance for all . . . .
But there we all were, “together” at the conference, and if there were any coherent plans for how this vast harmonious concert of united humanity is to subsume current power structures and create a better world, I didn’t catch wind of them. Maybe I just went to the wrong rooms.
Because, in fact, I witnessed several quite bristly moments of disharmony, one among panelists on stage and one among audience members, the latter threatened physical aggression, with me shouting “stop!”
And throughout the weekend, there was more accord on explicating societal ills and defining authoritarian power structures than on fresh orientations or practical strategies for building a just and fair society.
Also, to my chagrin, I did not hear discussed what is actually the most significant divide among progressives, the rift between secular atheists and spiritually-oriented progressives. The latter were tellingly under-represented in the Left Forum programming. It appears the two groups do not break bread together, nor smoke the peace pipe around the same campfires.
And, of course, there are those progressives who wouldn't be caught dead or alive at either the Left Forum or at a gathering of, say, the Institute of Noetic Scientists, whose conference attracts the “conscious evolutionary” progressives.
And so the palpable spiritual desertification of our culture, if we could even be said to have a culture at all here in the US, was not considered a key part of the discussion of political, economic or social problems at either of the two Left Forums I’ve attended (2010 and 2011).
But I wonder if spiritual poverty and spiritual heartbreak is of central and essential relevance to our movement and to the urgent global problems so eloquently elucidated and enumerated at the Left Forum.
There were only a couple of classroom panels focusing on spiritual topics. One featured three Christian ministers speaking to a relatively small audience about the radical nature of their congregational work. Another panel, which I did not attend, featured Gary Null, et. al., who may have approached some of the issues I am pointing to here.
The very fact that the spiritual left and the academic left do not, for the most part, speak to each other in public (and that this fact was not deliberately brought forth in the widely attended plenary talks at this year’s Left Forum) speaks volumes about just how intractable a problem achieving solidarity really is among progressives.
How can we speak about solidarity or lack thereof without coming to grips with this glaring dissonance? Not only was this, our biggest rift, left unaddressed as a central topic in any panels I attended, I heard no direct conversation about any of the perennial divisions among progressives—all the little fractures and slices of worldview from Marxists to progressive democrats, to Green Anarchists—and so, where could be the insightful analyses of what human needs give rise to strong ideological identifications and encampments or how such divisions might be transcended? And without such understanding, how are we to begin to approach a more global vision for connecting with those who are not the least bit progressive at this time?
Instead, the need for solidarity was addressed through kudos for Egyptian and Wisconsin demonstrators, through applauding these truly heroic examples and models of solidarity for social justice and regime change, but at a time when neither of these groups have lasting victory to show for their efforts, the kind of social progress that can deal with human greed, aggression, power, supremacy . . . .
There were accolades and strong applause for the solidarity represented by pizza orders called in to feed Madison, WI demonstrators, from unknown ideological comrades watching Madison protests via internet and TV around the US and the world.
Yes! hot pizza pies are significant and meaningful gestures of solidarity, and yet eerily disappointed was I that radicals at the Left Forum did not dig up and chew on the roots of what lasting solidarity really is, the metaphysical elements of brotherhood and sisterhood and what gives rise to them beyond the common enemy, those intangibles that provide persistent courage and energy to power through and prevail in the face of destructive forces that oppose the best in us.
In my experience of the conference only Cornel West went there and so it thrilled me when he said, in speaking of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan: “We actually love those brothers and sisters. And isn’t it something that to believe that is to be radical.” That’s it; that’s right! He actually used the L-word, the seemingly forbidden word that represents a force that knows no bounds or divisions and no obstacles, a force more powerful than all the evils in our way. Bravo, Cornel West! The audience exploded with applause for him.
Why not speak of this in depth and more often? Why the separation of intellect and soul? Can't we get over this?
Is it because this is what gets you good and killed if you start talking about it as an unmediated birthright (Lennon, MLK, Jesus . . .) and start speaking of its lack as the root cause of social injustice?
Other than West’s statements, the general disengagement from the L-word and its meaning as the clarifying, fundamental aspect of life that we must exercise, strengthen and engage in ourselves and each other to full capacity, is the daunting fact that left me bereft, because only by addressing the lack of love amongst progressives and others will we be set to balance and transform our stagnation and galvanize a metaphysics of solidarity. This is how to arrive at a resolute set of actions, with strong and flexible bonds of brotherhood, with loving care and tenderness as our foundation; this is what's necessary for us to overcome rampant toxicity at every level—all of this was crystalized for me by what was lacking at the conference, an understanding of just why progressives are in their perennial underdog position in the struggle for justice.
Are we embarrassed or afraid to love big, bold and colorful? Are we ashamed to speak of abiding love as the energy of our bonds? Are we all just too depressed, anxious and desiccated inside? Can we wholeheartedly live up to taking care of ourselves and each other? Are we too heartbroken by life experience to let love flow and overspill, to beam love in the direction of the future where we will pioneer into 21st Century and excite all those around us to do the same? Are we paralyzed by the evil we have witnessed and continue to witness every day around us? All I can say is that if love is flowing in our hearts and nervous systems, let it not be confined, disguised, or kept too private now; we need it now more than ever.
I am listening for it, looking for it (the L), and yet I hear rampant cynicism, depression and despair. Love is lively, confident and bright. I appreciated the moment when Joel Kovel said in his presentation that “you need faith if you’re going to transform the world.” This is correct. But what is faith?
Faith is not religion, emotion or belief. Faith is a basic trust in life and the forces of existence, a trust in one’s organic sense of what is real and correct, and a trust in the underlying forces and processes of a universe of implicate law and intelligence, exceeding our feeble comprehension. We have to reawaken our capacities to listen, intuit and trust in life's true essentials.
Investigative journalism, accurate assessments and indictments, as well as multiple forms of resistance are surely needed, but we also need more time to be quiet, to be outdoors in wild places, to welcome our own changes, to be creative and make mistakes, to refresh ourselves and to get over our pasts, so that we’re not projecting personal rage from offenses of long ago onto current outrageous situations. Because all that makes for is conflagration, not skillful, creative and radical means that can show the way to the unwise.
The super-communicators of this year’s Forum were Cornel West and John Nichols. The old adage that “it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it,” reasserted itself fully in the delivery of these orators. They activated bonding forces of solidarity, speaking emphatically with grace, rousing emotion, tempered to below the boiling point.
And yetl, did we not still long for gifts of real imagination at this conference? The cutting-edge is dull, getting perennially stuck at a horizon all too familiar, with too many conflicting views and goals, too much in-fighting. What will cut through to a higher order, to overcome dysfunction in our world.
Lip service is often given to the role of artists and creatives, but were there any artists on the Left Forum plenary panels? No!
At the scale of global society, with nearly seven billion people on the planet now, and with enormous challenges and forces in play, why are all these brilliant thinkers not entirely engaged with just how human beings will function, seven billion strong, as the current imperialist and plutocratic structures are disabled and dismantled, as we would like them to be?
The most clearly desirable practical ideas mentioned were worker cooperatives and relocalization, breaking up of multinational conglomerate financial systems, such as the IMF and the World Bank, reregulating investment banks, decentralizing governments into smaller regional entities and a global redistribution of wealth and power.
These are all ideas in common currency on the left. For those of us not invited to the table at progressive think tanks, it would be galvanizing to us to get feasible pictures of how the society we ideologically want would actually work, how things would be different in our daily lives and how those differences would make dangers we now face shrink back and resolve, how the redistribution of wealth and power would actually be achieved.
And if the answer is that nobody really has such things worked out, even in in their own minds, then how smart is it, really, to convene at this time, to have all these people burning all this fossil fuel to come together just to criticize the yellow brick road and the men behind the curtain? Shouldn’t we all be working locally and personally to open up our visionary capacities so we can see the way forward and then get together to share views and arrive at plans?
The word revolution was certainly in the air at the Forum, but it takes a whole lot more than a word to convince significant numbers of people to revolt. Combat revolutions require sacrifices of lives and materials; and history has shown that even successful people's revolutions can be followed on by regression to old ways.
This is exactly why “the spiritual left” calls for inner revolution, for psychological change, for freedom from addiction, for personal authority and integrity, so that social progress springs from authentic habits of holistic thinking and living, from the resolution of inner conflicts, and freedom from the irritation, discontent and wanting of the immature human spirit.
Everywhere on the Left we are inundated with daunting facts rather than energizing tactics. Facts about the toxicity of what we breathe, drink and eat, stats on the alarming rate of wealth being sucked up the ladder, rallying calls for the redistribution of wealth – So where is the unified, coordinated redistribution-of-wealth strategy? "Tax the rich"? Is this it?
Did anyone at the Left Forum say international general strike? I didn’t hear it. How much personal and moral authority would it take for, say, 25% of people around the world to shut down the global economy and governments and take charge of every aspect of their own lives, as a group, in solidarity? We could do this, just as soon as we are actually ready to handle it.
But how do unemployed people living on government checks strike? Are they going to refuse to pick up their government checks? Are they really interested in bringing down the government that is the teat they’re attached to for food and drink?
And what about employed people or entrepreneurs, up to their eyeballs in debt, kids, cars . . . what would get them to step out of line to bring down the system and build a new world? What do you think? That going to happen if we have no solidarity or plan that encourages these people to drop out of this way of life and stand together?
In which rooms at the conference were they talking about all this?
There were many details given about corporate abuses of power and how Citizens United will effect elections and bring even more corporate power to lawmaking and military authority, more evidence that we are being strangled and poisoned notch by notch, that while we hem, haw, dilly and dally, Fascism is taking hold and tightening its grip.
We were also privy to many specifics and particulars of the escalating environmental devastation of our biosphere and the denial of corporate/governmental power to recognize the urgency and respond. To be environmentally responsible means abandoning a legacy of exploitation and greed with biblical underpinnings, as well as high-stakes investments in growth and expansion of businesses based on extraction, domination and exploitation of natural ecosystems. To be truly environmentally responsible would mean that predatory capitalist system would be finished and the elite standards of living that everyone in the Left Forum audience is used to would be cut way, way back. Ready to rally for that? Just how many people would be put out of work in that scenario? Even if workers were to take over those businesses as coops, how would they run such businesses if they weren’t going to exploit land or other people?
We want to end the wars, close nuclear power plants, stop hydrofracking and tar sands operations, stop offshore drilling. Are you ready to live without fossil fuels? Ever gone hiking and camping? Ever live like a monk or a nun? No? Do these things now and then let's have a radical conversation.
We were told that Fox News is the most watched television news program and that the Wall Street Journal is the most read newspaper; that the messengers on the Right are ever-so-disciplined, consistent and pervasive in their backward messaging.
But isn’t it also true that Republicans are divided on many issues? We were told that half of Republicans identify as Tea Party supporters and the other half poll more like Democrats on the subject of social programs. So, the truth is that they don’t know what to do either and they don’t agree with each other or stand together on a lot of issues. There are pro-choice, pro gay marriage, fiscal Republicans, for example.
So why were there not concentrated analyses of just what our central messages are and why we are so unclear, undisciplined, inconsistent and ineffectual? Why were we not looking judiciously at ways to create lasting solidarity across platforms, across aisles, across all the blurred and shifting lines of the masses of suffering humanity? Why can’t we think bigger and more holistically than we do?
Artists, spiritual elders, and futurists are the visionary systems thinkers with big-picture capacity, long-range vision, and inner resources of satisfaction, but there were no artists or futurists on the plenary stage. Why not?!
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, prodigious minds of erudition and passion, where was the much-needed attention to remedying ideological territorialism, which so afflicts the movement for justice and for sanity? Are we to remain defined primarily by what we are not, by what we oppose, by our anti-corporate and anti-capitalist rage, slogans and declarations?
Must it be our destiny to be in the role of yelping underdogs, fighting with our softie-hearted kid gloves in a class war that is totally rigged, where nothing can be done without capital and where we are perennially undercapitalized and forced to fight a losing battle, when in fact we are lovers not fighters? Why was there not more talk along these lines?
I say we've got to change the game in our own lives and who wants to hear that?! Let us no longer recognize the value of paper currency! Let us be defined by our creative vision and leadership, making obsolete, in both word and deed, the shackles of unwholesome societal projects! Disengage! Pull out! Disobey! Divest yourself of everything you've got sunk into the toxic, unreal world. Occupy the land. Leave the cities and get with the land to learn from and work with those who know how to live in harmony with the land.
Laura Flanders said something very important at the conference. She said, “Reality is what we need to grapple with.” This is truly of the essence. And it’s the same reality for progressives, as it is for those on the right. Dissociation from reality is the most pervasive human problem we are called to overcome now, in every social class, at every age, and in every culture and country on Earth.
Our true unity is actually found in our ignorance and weaknesses, in the pain of our confusion, ineptitude, psychological immaturity and disengagement from the Earth, in our not knowing what to do. The energetic network for mass solidarity is actually the shared experience of modernity and industrial civilization and its discontents, its craziness, its falsities, and our shared struggles of being neither here nor there.
Meanwhile everyone is pretending to know more than they do know and to be stubbornly right in that! We are together in our hidden existential pain. We will be strong when we can present a viable structuring of society that gives everyone the time and resources to address their dissociation from reality, to deal with hurt and the possibility of deep healing for future generations, to approach reality afresh, as ones who have learned a great deal since the start of the industrial era, with only perhaps a few elements of it worth keeping. Let us be eclectic about what we have learned; let's keep gems of wisdom and abolish all our many errors of ways and means.
No one can do this while they are on a rat-wheel “workin’ for the man,” when they are caught up in competition, envy and fear. And “the man” can’t do it either, not when he’s in domination mode, waging war, exploiting underlings, setting policies that don’t serve the universal needs of people, scarring the land and pillaging seas for profit. These are people sadly out of touch.
All too few of us can approach and stay engaged with reality if we are living within today’s world structures, which are so very damaging to the spirit. This is why monks and nuns are given protection to be reclusive; they are doing the work of inner alignment with reality. More and more of us could disengage from academia and all forms of institutional and establish work and turn inward to contact reality, living very simply and without fanfare. As we do, we need less and less of what the techno-monopoly world has to offer, seeing it as a sorrowful waste of the gift of life. All people might be touched by reality and therein find rest, peace.
Are we willing to lay down our careers, positions and possessions if that’s what needs to be done to reach our most cherished goals?
Imagine if 85% of the world’s population were highly educated and psychospiritually mature. Anarchy might work. It would not be such a chaotic situation. But if 85% of the world’s population is ignorant, dependent and immature, anarchy is completely untenable, because people cannot self-manage and they will not be trustworthy to look after each other and other forms of life.
A favorite slogan of the Situationists during the European social upheavals in 1968 was "Be Realistic. Demand the impossible.”
Reality itself is demanding that we transcend, create, surpass former limits and that is the natural way of the universe anyway, with or without us. What seems “impossible,” out of reach, is so because our psychospiritual development and its conditions are too undeveloped to live up the moral sense or the creative potential that is ours, but which is very intimate. This demand for alignment with intimate reality is knocking inside all of us but the most severely crippled souls, those very people who so often find their way into positions of power. When are we going to answer to the intimate truth instead of to the magnetic psychopaths who dominate and manipulate through ignorance and lies?
The growth humanity needs now has nothing to do with the growth of an economy or the provision of “creature comforts,” nor with rallies and the fall of governments. It is about deepening and strengthening of our capacity to meet reality and be wholeheartedly aligned with it, to be realized people, working with natural law as our law.
Can we imagine that the basis of our entire global culture is to achieve what is generally considered “the state of enlightenment,” but which is simply alignment with reality?
Will the academic left get with this? If so, you might just be out of a job, professors. How would you like to build a cob house with a bunch of us and put in some gardens and greenhouses?
And, will “the spiritual left” please leave off with the UFOs and aliens, crystals and runes, drug trips, crop circles, reptilian humans, astrology, mystery cults, power of attraction workbooks, drum circles, fortune tellers, pagan rites . . . and meet with intellectuals and just folks around the campfire for some practical architecture?
Now, will the evangelists and the rednecks, addicts, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, gangsters, secret agents and casino owners turn away from false doctrines, false flags, guns and poisons? What? No? Will you be ransacking our brand new mud and straw villages? Really?
Don’t you want to admit that the native peoples were the advanced minds, the wisdom figures, and that the Europeans were the neurotic, puerile savages?
Can we get a wee bit smarter and more radical now?
Making our demand Life’s demand, taking this upon ourselves as a species, across all borders, boundaries and divisions, is deeply political in nature and also deeply spiritual: these go together. Once you’re fully involved in reality, you won’t have time anymore for consumer business or celebrities, nor will you harbor a shred of interest in the circus of electoral politics.
Bio-psycho-social-spiritual integration and development, dynamic growth, holistic health and clear mind-sight into and through the old and the present has the potential to bring not only the fractured left together, but humanity as a whole.
The imperative for reality changes the human project entirely. We simply cannot go back to sing Jack and Jill, play musical chairs and Ring around the Rosy now. We simply cannot sing anthems, run marathon rat races or have the fruits of our love and work go to war and waste.
The whole stage-set will be dismantled when we are over the silly stories of this theater! All of us, together, over it, over it now! Dull, ditzy, dusty old stories!
Victor Hugo famously said "Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come." And the time as come, fellow human beings, to acknowledge that when enough of the human race grows up and perceives reality, the seemingly endless cycles of invasion, exploitation and domination of peoples and planet will be obsolete.
There are not enough jails, money or uniformed men to contain, hold back and push down an idea whose time has come.
It is the whole construct of reality that is crumbling and dying around us. Goodbye. Good night. Good luck. Awaken.
©2011 Jari Chevalier
November 21st, 2010
Host of Living Hero, Jari Chevalier, speaks about her work as a multidisciplinary artist, on the What Now show with Ken Rose, KOWS Radio, November 1, 2010.
Link to the interview.
The recurring theme of this relaxed, off-the-cuff discussion was uncertainty and the unknown. Acknowledging our true position in our collective uncertainty can bring empathy, clarity, and equality like nothing else. We also talked about personal change and disengaging from the culture of machines.
Image: American Legacy, inlaid paper collage and acrylic on canvas. Part of the Mathematics of Ecstasy show. See the full set of images at jariart.com.
Enjoy Ken Rose's full list of interviews at pantedmonkey.org.
November 3rd, 2010
" . . . understanding this problem [sociopathy] creates an entire paradigm shift in the way we view human nature."
--Dr. Martha Stout
This episode of our program brings you an interview with Dr. Martha Stout, clinical psychologist and bestselling, award-winning author on the subject of sociopathy. For twenty-six years, she served as a Psychology Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and also taught at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Wellesley College, The New School for Social Research, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Stout has worked at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Psychiatric Hospital. She is author of The Myth of Sanity, The Paranoia Switch, and The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us, a National Bestseller and winner of a Books for a Better Life Award.
Listen at your convenience!
Leave your comments about this program here:
Thanks for listening!
Standard Podcasts [29:58m]: Embeddable Player
February 1st, 2010
Know anyone who keeps doing things everybody knows aren’t good for them, others, or the environment? Our guest for February, Anne Wilson Schaef, is an expert facilitator in overcoming multiple addictions. Anne takes an unconventional, whole systems approach to awakening and healing people in light of their familial heritage and societal context.
“I think that a part of our work as human beings in this life is to bring as much as we can of our unconscious into consciousness so that we know what we're dealing with and we have the opportunity to heal it . . . ” says Anne Wilson Schaef in this interview.
We talked about:
Leaving psychotherapy behind ● Process addictions and substance addictions ● Surprise! Our society is an addict ● Addiction and schizophrenia ● A progressive and fatal disease ● Can we recover? ● The elements of a successful intervention ● Wisdom and native humility ● The way of science and technology ● The pseudopodic ego ● Escape from Intimacy ● Political dimensions of dysfunction ● The crucial question on the planet ● The trouble with dualism ● The twelve steps and power ● Can billions of people heal?
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about an hour and 7 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy some of Anne Wilson Schaef's books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
Anne's Boulder Hot Springs Inn & Spa at Boulder, MT
And her website: LivingInProcess.com
Standard Podcasts [1:00:07m]: Embeddable Player
December 4th, 2009
“Death costs a fortune, but life is free,” writes Living Hero Terry Riley, in a lyric for his composition Missy Gono. Riley is a true original, recognized worldwide for first bringing minimalist musical composition into circulation in 1964 with his now classic In C and thereby influencing a new generation of avant garde composers and acid rock bands. Dedicated to a life of deep listening, composition, and inspired performance, Terry joins us to share his insights into art, a healing spirit and life.
We talked about:
The inner experience of originality ● Terry’s Time Lag Accumulator ● Dipping into a sound current ● Music and altered states ● Creativity, discipline, spirit and nature ● Psychedelics and spiritual practice ● Our world and our path to healing ● Urban sound and sensitivity ● Raising kids in a creative household ● Terry's ongoing relationship with his works ● His creative influences ● Imagination as an aspect of intelligence ● Music as philosophy and a model of the world ● The story of Missy Gono ● 6500 pipes in the wee hours at Disney Hall
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 40 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy some of Terry's CDs on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
Visit Terry's website at terryriley.net
Standard Podcasts [39:55m]: Embeddable Player
November 1st, 2009
She studied with Robert Motherwell, lived with the Magritte family, and hung out with Jasper Johns. In 1966, Suzi Gablik had a one-woman show of her collage paintings exhibited and catalogued in New York. She later brought a prodigious and caring voice to art criticism, as a respected reviewer of art in London for Art in America, and authored her engaging trilogy of scholarly writings on art and culture Has Modernism Failed?, The Reenchantment of Art, and Progress in Art. She also wrote Magritte, Conversations Before the End of Time, and her memoir Living the Magical Life. Currently, Suzi Gablik hosts a blog featuring her latest cultural and political essays at virgilspeaks.blogspot.com.
We talked about:
Is the human species fit to survive? ● The downside of technology ● The divided United States ● Obama's moral authority ● A burning house, a bus careening off a cliff ● 9/11 as political instigation ● The unbearable places we must go to heal ● Negative capability and extreme sports ● Suzi's magical life of receptivity ● The patriarchy and the black madonna ● The karmic thread of who you are ● How to face the darkness without despair ● Preciousness and unviability ● The artist as role model ● The paradigm of dead objects and the egocentric art world or an alternative: an aesthetic response to the cries of the world ● An alligator named Virgil
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 55 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy some of Suzi's books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
Standard Podcasts [55:18m]: Embeddable Player
October 1st, 2009
"We need to bring down civilization, because it's killing the planet," says our guest, author and activist Derrick Jensen.
Formerly a college professor and a commercial beekeeper, Jensen's prolific career as an author has given us A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, Endgame, Listening to the Land, Strangely Like War and Walking on Water. He also co-authored Railroads & Clearcuts and Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control. He has written for The New York Times magazine, The Sun, Audubon, and many other publications.
In 2008 Derrick Jensen was named one of Utne Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World."
We talked about:
Preparation for truth-telling ● Above ground and below ground activism ● The only language destroyers understand ● The essence of Derrick's philosophy and passion ● Normalizing insane behavior ● Reform or revolution? ● What do we need to do? ● Living in the culture of make-believe ● The relationship between eroticism and violence ● Collapse and the shape of things to come ● Hypocrisy in the environmental movement ● Owning prejudices and shifting alliances ● Do we need to harden our hearts or to open them? ● Discernment, compassion, compliance and fierce love
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 52 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy some of Derrick's books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
This podcast episode contains explicit language.
Standard Podcasts [52:38m]: Embeddable Player
May 1st, 2009
Radical Simplicity! The Living Hero program presents an interview with author, educator, and activist Jim Merkel.
Jim began as a military engineer. Just after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Jim quit his job and took immediate personal responsibility for his own part in global problems. This meant taking radical actions to scale back consumption and deeply reconsider life in all its dimensions. He subsequently authored Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Merkel received an Earthwatch Gaia Fellowship to research sustainable living in Kerala, India and in regions of the Himalayas.
He founded the Global Living Project and was hired by Dartmouth College to serve as its first Sustainability Director.
Jim lives the life of radical simplicity—cycling hundreds of miles to give lectures and workshops at colleges , universities, and community centers. He is a homesteader, growing and preserving his own food, and living on about $5,000 a year. Jim has given hundreds of hours of his time as a volunteer to share his wealth of knowledge on the new good life of sustainable living.
We talked about:
• the present pulse of the sustainability movement
• the real root of simplicity
• engaging the heart
• Jim's childhood and influences
• the real challenge of society: the common good
• how radical simplicity crosses party lines
• Jim's revolutionary shift after Exxon-Valdez
• what it means to exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth
• what is an ecological footprint
• Jim's view of the economic crisis
• living on $5000 a year in America
• the roots of violence and fear
• population control, women, and wisdom
• falling in love with the Earth
Enjoy the show! (The program is around 50 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
Standard Podcasts [51:37m]: Embeddable Player
April 1st, 2009
The healing power of doing good! The Living Hero program is honored to present an interview with author, lawyer, non-profit executive and altruistic leader, Allan Luks.
Allan’s steadfast commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged youth in New York City, and his extraordinary contributions to the success of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of NYC, established the agency as one of the country's most prominent mentoring organizations. Mr. Luks has received numerous awards, including Crain's New York Business magazine's "Public Service Leader of the Year," and the national Lewis Hine award.
Allan Luks has developed programs to meet the special needs of NYC youth, including those affected by 9/11, teen mothers, youth with disabilities, and youth with siblings and/or parents in prison. He has successfully lobbied the New York State Legislature to pass "The Safe Mentoring Act." Allan also created the BBBS Center for Training and Professional Development, in partnership with Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service, to bring the successful BBBS of NYC model to other city mentoring agencies.
Mr. Luks authored The Healing Power of Doing Good, which outlines the emotional health benefits derived by volunteers. He coined the term helper's high," used everywhere now in popular literature on volunteering. Allan continues to serve as a senior adviser to BBBS.
We talked about:
• alcohol and drug abuse and the necessary 12th step in AA
• wherein lies Doing Good's power to heal?
• helping and its effects on stress
• what is the underlying tension in the human, which needs relaxation?
• the real challenge of society: the common good
• finding the right kind of helping for you
• the basic truth underlying our lives
• the best ways to encourage helping
• the creative process and getting your work done
• the conception of Since I Became a Terrorist Target
• what's next?
Enjoy the show! (The program is 40 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
Standard Podcasts [39:45m]: Embeddable Player
December 1st, 2008
The Living Hero show is honored to present an interview with author, speaker and thought leader, Riane Eisler. She is recognized as one of the most original minds of our time, and has been included among the world's 20 great thinkers and peacemakers. She is president of the Center for Partnership Studies and is best known for her international bestseller The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. Riane holds degrees in sociology and law from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and has done pioneering and transformative work in the fields of human rights and relations, history, sociology, economics, psychology, and education. She is the author of over 200 essays and articles and five books.
We talked about:
• The redistribution and redefinition of power
• What is the real wealth of nations?
• Political ironies and transformation
• Playing economics with a full deck
• The psychological underpinnings of domination and control
• Gender relations and notions of male and female power
• Is human nature fundamentally flawed?
• Riane's own path of transformation
• The neurochemistry of pain and pleasure
• Creativity as a force for leadership and change
Visit Riane Eisler's websites at www.rianeeisler.com and The Center for Partnership Studies (partnershipway.org)
Enjoy the show! (The interview is 50 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
Standard Podcasts [50:12m]: Embeddable Player
October 1st, 2008
The Living Hero podcast welcomes our distinguished guest, clinical psychologist and bioenergetic analyst, Scott Baum, Ph.D.
Dr. Baum is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology. He is also a certified Bioenergetic Therapist, and a member of the Faculty of The International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. He has been affiliated with the DiMele Center for Psychotherapy since 1994.
Scott Baum views psychotherapy as an experiential, problem solving process. He believes that the deepest, fullest, and most complex understanding of a person’s problem yields the best, most creative and enduring results.
We talked about:
• The premise that underlies bioenergetic analysis
• A more refined view of stress
• How human beings are biologically organized
• What goes on in a bioenergetic session
• Males, fathers, patriarchal society, power and the unknown
• The disparity between mothers and fathers
• Why men don’t ask for directions
• Healthy narcissism, narcissistic disorders and the true self
• A dividing line among therapists
• What’s possible with therapy
• How to learn more about Bioenergetics.
Visit the website for the New York Society for Bioenergetic Analysis
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about an hour)
Listen at your convenience!
Standard Podcasts [57:23m]: Embeddable Player
August 1st, 2008
At an old-fashioned soda-pop style lunch counter in Bowman, North Dakota, I met Scott Parsons. He was eating pie in black, white and pink spandex with a smattering of corporate logos across his chest. After he had learned that his friend's daughter Mikyla had been diagnosed with Rett syndrome, Scott quit his job as Western VP of Sales with Georgia Pacific to ride his bicycle from San Francisco to Boston to help raise money to fund medical research for Rett Syndrome.
Our conversation covers:
• Scott’s motivations to ride
• Information on Rett syndrome and the hope of a cure
• Highlights of the great American landscape
• Impressions of the American people
• The goals for the ride and beyond
Learn more about Scott, his trip, and the cause for which he’s riding at
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 25 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Standard Podcasts [26:40m]: Embeddable Player
May 12th, 2008
In our movement toward wholeness and maturity, perhaps the most fundamental challenge—and our goal—is the acceptance and embrace of our freedom. To live as sovereign individuals, so that our highest authority is our own sense of what is right, and knowing that we hold the wisdom to assess for ourselves the particulars of a situation, means that we fully trust ourselves and are willing to stand alone, if and when necessary.
Since creative people are so often ahead of their time, we must really know, as an experience deep in our bodies, that our assessments of relationships are right; and this deep, inner knowledge gives us the courage to be harbingers of what may one day also be discovered by the masses. Galileo knew he was right; Blake knew; Einstein knew; Walt Whitman . . . the great ones knew.
This type of innate knowledge comes through the experiences of intuition, inspiration, epiphany, and insight. These are spiritual experiences: understanding moves through you energetically, so that you see something and feel the rightness of it at the same time. This spirituality is fresh and personal; it exists apart from any particular theology or ideology.
Sadly, living without a personal spiritual connection to life and the freedom it supports is the grim lot of most people. Lives lacking a genuine, experiential spiritual foundation tend to oscillate between controlling others and being controlled. Without the spiritual ground of experience which is the very will of freedom, the prospect of freedom is just too much for people, and power is the woeful tether by which they aim to feel secure.
Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom explores the widespread aversion to freedom and persuades us that sadomasochistic tendencies underpin it. "It is always the inability to stand the aloneness of one’s individual self that leads to the drive to enter into a symbiotic relationship with someone else. It is evident from this why masochistic and sadistic trends are always blended with each other. Although on the surface they seem contradictions, they are essentially rooted in the same basic need. People are not sadistic or masochistic, but there is a constant oscillation between the active and the passive side of the symbiotic complex, so that it is often difficult to determine which side of it is operating at a given moment. In both cases individuality and freedom are lost."
Later in his book, Fromm relates that these destructive tendencies to escape from freedom result from the thwarting of the individual’s sensuous, emotional, and intellectual expansiveness in childhood. These perversions are the torque our spirits take from the suppression of our exuberance, curiosity, and creative will in childhood and, which can continue all our lives. By continuing to suppress our natural tendencies to explore, move and stretch our bodies, imagine, try things out and invent, we perpetuate our pain and give rise to yet another generation of frustrated human beings stuck on a see-saw of power relations.
Here's the remedy: reactivation of our creative and expressive pleasures goes straight to the root of perversions of spirit that we witness in our lives and our societies. Encouraging our children and each other to spend more time puttering and tinkering with things out of curiosity, creativity, and imaginative play, fostering our spiritual connection to life through observation, meditation, and the many means that help us to do this, and providing ourselves with the conditions for the experience of intuition, inspiration, epiphany and insight will all feed the hope of a new humanity that has the courage for real freedom.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
May 1st, 2008
To live your life as a creative artist, everything you do and experience is invested into vision, meaning and insight; and in this, there cannot be a separation between self, work and life.
Successful creation is a distillation of many hours of time alone just sponging things in and then processing them with the light of solitude on. Solitude, a word that comes from the Latin "solus," is akin to the Greek word "holos," signifying whole, entire. An artist comes to wholeness in and through solitude.
You'd be hard pressed to find an artist who isn't poignantly aware of her existential aloneness, and yet, like anyone else, she lives in relationship. However, often, instead of social relationships, she relies upon deep, abiding relationships with the ineffable intimations of her gift. There's a sense of partnership with the unseen--the muse, the unconscious, the universe--to get her work done.
And so the artist working in solitude is not really "alone." She is having intense affairs with aspects of the self and with the numinous. Henry James once told the journalist Morton Fullerton that the "essential loneliness" of his life constituted his "deepest" aspect.
The quality of relationship with one’s own inner dynamics, which are nurtured in solitude, provide the conditions for creation. The feeling arises, when you are creating, that you are doing what you are meant to do and it is sustained by the experience of being touched by something larger-- a communion experience that one simply cannot explain, but instead must honor and serve.
But there is a big difference between solitude and isolation. To balance long stretches of unbroken solitude, an artist, especially a developing one, needs like-minded others, people who understand the passion and process of a creative person and who support him in his efforts, who welcome him when he finally does come out from behind the closed door. It helps to have a peer group or, at the very least, one trusted fellow artist with whom to share both the work and one’s life.
Solidarity means unity among people, a shared sense of purpose and understanding of what matters--values, feelings, sensitivities about things, qualities of life. Solidarity is every bit as crucial to the health, balance and survival of the artist as is solitude.
Some artists must or perhaps choose to find their solidarity without real-time contact with peer artists, but instead, through the works of more distant artists. In the words of painter and art teacher Robert Henri, "If the artist is alive in you, you may meet Greco nearer than many people, also Plato, Shakespeare, the Greeks. In certain books--some way in the first few paragraphs you know that you have met a brother."
T.S. Eliot states something similar about our solidarity: "A common inheritance and a common cause unite artists consciously or unconsciously: it must be admitted that the union is mostly unconscious. Between the true artists of any time there is, I believe, an unconscious community."
I wonder, are these qualities, which are so obviously critical to the life of the artist, not important to the health, balance, development and well-being of everyone? What do you think?
I have been traveling alone since the end of March, and also living among artists with long days of solitude in my studio and cherished connections at shared meals and walks through the Illinois prairie. I have now relocated temporarily to Austin, TX and I have been exposed to a great deal of art and culture along the way!
Since that last week of March I have seen:
The Homer and Hopper exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago;
Laurie Anderson speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago;
The collections and current shows at The Milwaukee Art Museum;
The current shows at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin;
The Kohler factory tour;
Columbia College Book & Paper Arts facilities and the M.F.A. show there;
A lecture by G. Edward Griffin at the University of Texas;
The On the Road show at the Harry Ranson Humanities Research Center in Austin;
I was also invited to spend an overnight as an all-expenses-paid guest at one of the exclusive private Kohler clubs.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
April 7th, 2008
I am writing to you from The Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, a lovely northern suburb of Chicago. Ragdale is an artist residency program that grants support to working artists by providing work/live space and meals (the chef is great here!) so they can concentrate on creating new work.
Immersing myself again in the making of visual art has been healing, surprising, and nourishing. I’m here for a month with other visual artists, fiction writers, and poets. Many of those here since I got here on March 27th will be leaving on Wednesday, opening the space for another group of ten whom I’ll meet, since I will stay on until April 23rd. I’ve met Anne LeClaire, Debra Darvick, Lucy Ferriss, Larry Thomas, Johnny Horton, Anita Garza, Katie Rodrigues, Rone Shivers, Lori Kagan and Amy Walsh. . . I am honored to be in this fine company.
Places like Ragdale acknowledge the need for free time and space to simply BE, to allow oneself to enter a passive-receptive state, a state of quiet engagement and inquiry, which provides the prime conditions for insight, intuitive leaps, and breakthroughs in composition.
You know, all artists are composers: it’s all about composition.
The artist combines and arranges elements to produce a harmonious whole through non-analytical means; a piece of work that has a formal coherence is born of synthesis (as opposed to analysis), which includes both conscious and unconscious layers of experience and that reconciles, in a fresh and new way, the multivalent human experience. This happens through the artist's own visceral and emotional powers of deduction, which are cultivated with practice, enabling something ordered and fixed to be born from the most general, encompassing and ineffable aspects of existence.
Whereas philosophers and scientists seek to encapsulate themes of the human universe and experience through mathematical equations and contextual theories; artists do so through their compositions. In any case, the construct is meant to stand in, reductively, for that which is overwhelming and mysterious, yet ever-present.
Composition provides a resting place for the viewer or listener, a place of contemplation, recollection, absorption. It can do so because it represents and displays a synthesis of the artist’s own many hours of reflection, self-confrontation, and composure.
Works of art thereby become highly fertile common ground for fresh perspectives and cultural progress, not as objects in and of themselves, but as catalysts for insight and understanding: the artwork is where the strange seeds of consciousness, of both artist and audience, meet and take root. This is perhaps why dictators and tyrants seek to either squelch or use the artists.
But in the complicit tyranny of our society, people have allowed themselves to become so busy and distracted that so much of art goes unperceived and thereby rendered impotent and inconsequential. Because even the greatest music, art, books, and dances are nothing if no one is sensitively and receptively listening, watching, reading, and engaging with them. Artist and audience are of equal importance to the enterprise of realizing art. It is vital to take the time to compose yourself and reflect on what is real, true, and beautiful in life; it’s crucial to civilization and human care.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
March 28th, 2008
The celebrated psychiatrist and author, Alexander Lowen, says that “the loss of faith is the key problem of modern man.” Are we in a crisis of faith? If we are, what are we supposed to do about it?
The astonishing scientific discoveries of the late 19th and 20th centuries have repeatedly shattered the ideological and theological constructs that guided human life for centuries. There’s no solid world out there anymore, no objective world; we now know the world only as we engage it; and so, as a people, we are unsure of ourselves and cynical about trusting or accurately evaluating anything.
In this sense, faith is an absolutely essential part of the life of an artist, a creative person, if his or her work is to successfully address the needs of our culture. But what kind of faith are we talking about here?
Notice the network of relationships among the words etymologically related to faith (from the Latin fides): fidelity, fealty, fiancé, fiduciary, confidant, confidence, defiant, diffidence, infidel, infidelity, perfidy, Fido.
A consideration of these words reveals that the issue of faith is one of trust; and trust is essentially tied to truth. You will trust an idea, a mode of being, an activity, a person, or life itself, if you trust its underlying reality and believe it to be true.
So, what is true for you? And how do you know it to be true?
If we are upset, bored, depressed or self-destructive, it is perhaps because we don’t know where to begin with ourselves, what to do. You can discover what to do by knowing what is sacred to you. So, the first move is to allow for more enthusiasm in our lives (from the Greek “en theus,” infused by God). Through genuine enthusiasm we find ourselves reeentering a state of grace, and of faith. In that state we don’t have to question what and who is sacred to us.
Now is the time to place greater trust in the truth of your own enthusiasm and to follow it with greater faith. You must keep faith with yourself now, to do what you feel enthusiastic about: what you set out to do in those finest hours when you know the energy in your mind and body is right. Have faith in the creative process and in the life force that pulses in you. Nurture it and draw upon it continuously.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
March 11th, 2008
The question, where is your money invested? is experienced by many as a violation, a pointed finger jabbing at them. Well, this gets our backs up precisely because this is where we have compromised our hearts, where we really don’t want to look and listen, where the worm of hypocrisy squirms. It’s what we really don’t want to feel, talk about, and possibly be moved to address. Why?
Because it is still, generally speaking, more financially profitable (higher returns, less risk) in the short term to put money into the coffers of established companies and profiteers, engaged as they may be in disregard of land, people, health and wisdom, and every creature of the Earth.
And so we think we have our money working for us?! We give over our money, which, along with our work, is our most powerful instrument, voice and vote, to this portfolio of doom and Armageddon. And, the game is set up so that the players rationalize and justify detrimental business practices on the basis of having to satisfy their stockholders with high returns. This is a game where profit is the highest value in consideration. So, there you have it.
I was at the Whitney Biennial contemporary art show on preview day and it was a spiritual wasteland, very disappointing. The show mirrors a society that is imbalanced, disgusting, disordered, epically ugly, mad, stupid, broken, mean-spirited and sick. On the audio tour, Ellen Harvey, one of the artists whose work stood out to me, said: “You can’t win, so let’s just start off by failing as extravagantly as possible,” in speaking of her art process. A fitting line for our times. There was hardly a hint of transcendence or visionary attitude in that entire show; instead, despair and hurt and self-indulgence. Is this the best we can do? One wonders about the selection of this uninspired psychic display and what the mindset is there, the agenda.
The proverb “money is the root of all evil” in these materialistically driven times might just as well be “money is the root of all good”. Our money is what we get for the life energy we have expended and both our energy and our money can be put to good, evil or neutral work in the world.
Our money actually does invest us in that which we have invested, even though we are not always willing to look at it that way or to do the real math from a holistic perspective. So then, are we living behind our own backs? Are we content to be strangers to ourselves and each other? Are we actually saying: yes, here, do more of this with our world, kill it, destroy and decimate it, kill it all, just give me another cushion, don’t take away my addictions, and throw in the health insurance.
We have the power, if we have the will, to reform our civilization very quickly, and we can do it with our energy and our money, much more effectively than with our political votes.
If you haven't seen the movie Zeitgeist yet, you can get to it through these links. It's screening at non-mainstream theaters across the country this Saturday. The second link displays those theaters. Part three of this movie gives a historical view of the financial world that you might want to have a look at. I invite your comments on this.
a>Streaming Zeitgeist movie
a>Big Screenings on March 15th
a>Article by Javier Sierra, Sierra Club, "How to Tell Greenwashing from Real Corporate Responsibility"
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
February 29th, 2008
Our fingerprints and faces tell us we are each “sui generis,” (one-of-a-kind), although most of us were raised to conform to, and plug into, a social structure, rather than encouraged to discover and display our distinctive gifts.
I often imagine a world of people brought up to shine as one-of-a-kind, creative expressions of humanity and wonder what such a world would be like. Each child would be approached with utter curiosity and a sense of reverence for the unforeseen gifts they might bring to both family and society. Their sui generis idiosyncracies would be nurtured by parents, teachers, leaders and the culture at large.
Would this approach help to bring about whole and fulfilled people, people who feel unashamed, confident, and appreciated for who they truly are?
Most kids have jumping-for-joy natures, abounding life energies and strong emotions. Yet, their unusual thoughts and insights, self-love, love of pleasure and of life are considered, at best, adorable in the cute way, rather than the worthy-of-adoration way. They are asked, in so many instances, to conform to what’s expected of them, to apply themselves to finding their place (a.s.a.p.!) in existing models, roles and societal structures, rather than to engender new systems and create new forms.
We may, in fact, be asking children to thwart their natural love of life to better fit into a system that is stressful, unhealthy and inhumane. Young people, whose heart-intelligence and innate compassion are still very much in tact, are one day treated to a movie about how sweet and wonderful penguins are and the next day informed of the destruction of the penguin habitat due to human profligacy. What tools do we provide them for dealing with their feelings about such ironies and inconsistencies?
When children object to societal emotional confusion, in their immature sui generis way, their rebellions are often attacked, shamed, undermined. I recently witnessed a young boy of about seven with his mother in front of a fish counter at Whole Foods. I saw him looking up at her and overheard her say, dismissively, unwilling to look down to meet his eyes, "There are plenty of fish in the sea, Johnny; it’s perfectly fine for us to eat them."
The point is not the fish here, the point is this boy’s heart and how his mother responded to his heart’s cry. And we wonder how the steep rise of childhood mental health disorders, and all the consequences associated with them, could be happening in such a wonderful place as the suburbs of the United States!
The erroneously attributed Chinese dish named Chop Suey is a bland, overcooked, and unpalatable dish of cheap, canned vegetables and water chestnuts held together with corn starch, invented in America and passed off as Chinese.
Do American adults turn their children into Chop Sui, while worrying that the Chinese are taking away their opportunities and wealth, spoiling their American Dream?! Would the children, if they knew what the choices were in our world, even choose the values of the American Dream?
The futurist author Daniel Pink details Six Senses needed in the coming generations in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. These senses are Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. I believe Empathy is the most important one of these senses to encourage and develop in the lives of children. Empathy is the ability to feel what another is feeling, to really meet other people and other creatures where they live, so to speak. Just imagine what a world this would be if empathy were an aptitude highly developed and prized in society at large, right from the way children are conceived, carried and birthed!
Imagine how that value of tenderness and care would naturally change the nature and aptitudes of their imaginations and contribute to the sensitivities of their other senses. And extend this imagining to how the products and services that drive the economy would also, organically, change in response to increased and concerted empathy in mass culture.
Imagine how a robust sense of empathy would influence the questions each individual would be asking about society; such as: Just what are we putting ourselves in service to? Are our enterprises honest and caring? How are we making and interpreting meaning in our educational and media presentations? How are we putting all the informational pieces of our society together? What are our fundamental narratives about? What are we designing and for what purposes?
In the presence of pervasive and abiding empathy, all our activities are in service to a healthier, more integrated way of life. And, I might dare to add, true empathy is what makes it possible for the sui generis nature of each face, each individual, each living thing, to truly shine and be held dear.
©2008 Jari Chevalier
February 19th, 2008
Living Hero is pleased to present an interview with author and futurist Daniel Pink
• The increasing value of right brain skills and capacities • The global forces giving rise to A Whole New Mind • The one cognitive skill common among corporate star performers • Reckoning with unfulfillment • Dan’s own creative process and methods • The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
Listen at your convenience!
Link to Dan Pink's Feb 2005 Wired magazine article "Revenge of the Right Brain"
Click through to buy his books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left. Don't miss them!
Standard Podcasts [31:48m]: Embeddable Player
February 13th, 2008
For the sake of this exploration, let’s just agree to use the word holic for an addicted, compulsive, obsessed individual. In spite of knowledge (a holic knows what is healthy, reasonable and good) she “loves” stuff that is ultimately self-destructive and cannot forsake indulgences for health or well-being, cannot manage, even through force of love or will to stop repeating damaging behaviors.
Now, let’s consider, in contrast, a holistic person. This person’s actions, whether they be in the realms of buying, eating, traveling, pleasure or work, are an integral part of a conscious life, borne out from the person they wish to be, the contribution they wish to make, and the world in which they wish to live. Such a person is capable of self-soothing and self-regard and lives with a genuine love of life. Such a person feels responsible.
People generally either soothe their existential angst and cope with life through a healthy selfhood (holistic) or through a set of defenses and fixes (holic).
Since I'm posting this on Valentine's Day eve, I have some love questions for us:
Is it love to buy someone chocolate, if sugar decays internal organs like it does teeth? Is it love to send dozens of cut roses here and there, if tons of hydrocarbons are thus released into our shared strained atmosphere? How about diamonds and that whole business? How about greeting cards, the paper industry pollution involved, the shipping and trucking of all that? Fine dining on fois gras—does this force-feeding of geese to fatten their livers deliver a culinary treat for our true love?
A holistic person thinks of these things. A holistic person sees the inseparable connections among all things in reality.
The phrase Just Do It made famous by Nike, a corporation notorious for sweatshop labor practices and all manner of exploitation, has perhaps provided us with an apt mantra for our times: Just Don’t Do It!
If we have told ourselves to change our habits and yet haven’t—guess what?—we’re holic and the waters are rising, the world is heating up—and how are we going to stop ourselves from doing the self-destructive things we’re in the habit of doing?
Join me as I take this on and share what I'm doing on these posts from time to time. I am upping the ante on myself to be ever more holistic.
Please click through to this article and then write to me and let me know what you think—could this environmental nightmare really be true or is it some mistake, a gross exaggeration?
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
January 13th, 2008
We have a biological and psychological need to sleep and dream; and in our dreams we synthesize life experience through symbolic, metaphorical and associative imagery. If denied this activity for even a few days, we become irritable, imbalanced and upset. Eventually, we will start hallucinating (dreaming while awake), dissociating from reality for awhile.
In our waking lives, as in our dream states, it is a support to our mental and physical well-being to process our experience metaphorically. In our society, however, the preoccupations of thought, the constant influx of music, TV and other media, the noise of our busy lives, prevents the active circuitry of the brain from receiving deeper, more subtle intimations of the self and engaging creatively with them.
Given the opportunity, these intimations and their imagery will surface and become active in the brain. Allowing for such opportunities, and actually encouraging, cultivating and nurturing them, brings joy, enthusiasm, understanding, and a sense of well-being, as well as bearing forth powerful new raw material for innovative, artistic and creative projects.
Lynn White, Jr., in her Frontiers of Knowledge in the Study of Man tells us "We are beginning to see that the distinctive thing about the human species is that we are a symbol-making animal, homo signifex, and that without this function we could never have become sapiens. We have not only the capacity to make symbols; we are under the necessity to create them in order to cope humanly with our experience."
This post is my prelude to our upcoming Podcast featuring sleep and dream researcher Dr. Robert Stickgold, scheduled for this Wednesday, January 16th.
December 31st, 2007
What is a personal vision? It's the way you see the world, the power of your own individual perception, the mix that is uniquely you. In Eastern languages, such as Japanese, adjectives always have "for-me-ness" built into the linguistic expression. (For me) this flower is beautiful.
In English, this personal view is supposed to be implicit, but we often forget to acknowledge our subjectivity in every perception.
Our bodies and minds are processors, synthesizers. We take in all kinds of stimuli the way plants take in sunlight; we convert those stimuli into thoughts, expressions and actions, revealing our own natures in particular and human nature in general.
Think of a large studio drawing class with a model, easels set up all around the room. Each artist is positioned at a different angle to the model and each will bring to the subject interpretive, stylistic and technical qualities. One artist may fill the canvas with large, broad minimal lines to capture the figure. Another may work with great precision to get the proportions as realistic as possible. Yet another may use pointillistic daubs to create a dot-matrix impression of the model.
Similarly, at a cocktail party (which many people may be attending as I write this) each person in the room has a different approach to and perception of the party, a different physical and interpretive angle on it.
We are all positioned exclusively as ourselves, with our own particular perceptions. The artist is the unusual person who revels in this uniqueness and finds strength in it and the will to render it authentically.
Artists convey impressions, images, ideas and views to others, many of whom they will never, otherwise, meet. But how many artists deeply question what's being conveyed by their works? Are you aware of and pleased by what you are conveying, whether or not you are an artist? Are you aware of what you stand for? Do you want to establish a more mature understanding of what it is you convey and what it means to your life and the lives you touch?
You arrive at this type of maturity through inquiry, and through experimentation, and ultimately, through developing a sense of accountability in relation to your work and life.
A person with a strong personal vision has realized his fingerprint, the signature of his being, and thus, wherever he goes, presents a recognizable vision and voice, a style. A friend of the painter Miro once said: "When I pick up a stone it's a stone, when Miro picks up a stone, it's a Miro." There are people in every walk of life who make the world their own, and whose works and expressions we would know anywhere. These are our visionaries.
It will be a happy new year for you and yours, I believe, if you tend to the vision that is yours and yours alone.
November 15th, 2007
E.O. Wilson, one of our most brilliant living heroes, preciently wrote in his 1999 bestseller, Consilience, "Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
Many other luminaries have echoed this call for synthesis. One of Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future is "Synthesizing Mind," and Daniel Pink devotes a chapter of his recently released A Whole New Mind to "Symphony," the ability to draw together details from many different disciplines while holding in mind the big picture and what it takes to achieve harmony, balance, and beauty.
This whole-brain capacity has been the gifted and treasured realm of artists, writers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders all along, but these are realms of activity that our culture has not rewarded financially. Is this going to change now? How will we see this change?
This blog is devoted to providing a forum for the exploration and discussion of these and related topics. I invite your thoughts and wish to know specifically whom you would most like to hear from in an interview or panel discussion and what your most burning questions on these topics are.