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July 2007 Satya Center Newsletter: On The Cusp of Global Transformation

By Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry on Jul 10, 2007

The Darkest Moment: Just Before Dawn

Welcome to the July 11 edition of the Satya Center newsletter.

Warm greetings from your Editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry.

Many of our friends, family, clients, customers and neighbors – primarily Americans -- have spoken to us recently about what they describe as a general feeling of malaise, pessimism, and futility they have been experiencing for the last year or two.

It has been perhaps a hundred years since the ruling classes in America have been so bold, so arrogant, and so dominant in every aspect of political, economic and cultural life.

A climate of fear and helplessness pervades the country. This unpleasant climate was triggered by 9/11 and has been tirelessly promoted by a self-serving political elite and a corporate media controlled by a handful of global corporations dedicated to the expansion of their wealth and privilege at any cost.

The long, brutal, authoritarian administration of George W. Bush has presided over an open-ended Imperial war of aggression in Iraq, an unprecedented transfer of wealth from middle class and poor Americans to a wealthy elite, the shredding of the Bill of Rights, and the polarization of the American people into a quasi-fascist right wing and fundamentalist faction, comprising about 30-35% of the population, and a larger, more moderate majority, that opposes the Iraq war, wants universal health care and good jobs at good wages, believes the government has a responsibility to all its citizens, not just large campaign contributors, and supports human rights, at home and abroad.

That would be enough in itself to put Americans in a bad mood. But George W. Bush has benefited from a historical anomaly that rests upon a quirk of American consciousness. Opposition to the immensely unpopular Iraq war has been almost completely ineffective. Labor unions are in retreat. Campuses are basically quiet; young people quietly accept the new social contract in which a vast class divide separates a tiny elite of wealth-holders from a larger group of increasingly insecure corporate job-holders and a beleaguered professional cadre from the vast majority of Americans, who find their wages shrinking, their prospects diminishing, their debt ballooning, and their ability to pay for housing, education, health care and retirement increasingly at grave risk.

The Democratic Party under the leadership of the Democratic Leadership Council and Bill and Hillary Clinton has become a second Republican party, dedicated to advancing the agenda of global corporations, international finance, and the super-wealthy, and Democrats have been completely unwilling to confront the neo-fascist Republicans and George W. Bush on any important issues.

The disconnect between America’s political, economic and intellectual elites and the vast majority of the American people is virtually complete. Elite opinion makers now validate political leaders who ignore the wishes of the vast majority of their constituents and pursue policies designed to enrich and empower the elites at the expense of the rest of us. The crisis of democracy is upon us, here in America, in the early 21st century.

Many commentators on the Internet speak of this crisis, but you will not read about it in any American newspaper or magazine (with a few honorable exceptions such as Harper’s), see discussion of this crisis on any American TV show, or view dramatizations of this crisis in your movie theatre – unless you go to see one of Michael Moore’s courageous films.

Conspiracy theories abound, and the general tenor of these theories is always the same. A vast, shadowy group of immensely powerful individuals has obtained virtually unlimited power and exercises it in every area of life, in America, and around the world, and it is basically futile to oppose them.

The subtext in these theoretical constructs, is for the average American to understand that it’s every man for himself; that there is no point in supporting any political parties, dissident groups, alternative media, unions, or any progressive political movements because resistance is futile.

The subconscious message is that it is far better to arm yourself to the teeth, prepare your family to survive the coming collapse of American civilization, and direct your suppressed rage at those targets sanctioned by the ruling classes, such as immigrants, African-Americans, Muslims, “liberals” and homosexuals.

These conspiracy theories have a long history in America. They are always promoted by right-wing political groups, and they serve the interests of the ruling class in a number of ways: by promoting the myth of the invincibility of the American ruling class, by promoting a general sense of futility among the populace, by promoting a war of all against all, and by dividing Americans along racial, gender and class lines to render opposition to the ruling class ineffective.

These same symptoms of cultural decline, including a general crisis of democracy and unprecedented concentrations of wealth are apparent around the world.

In Britain, Bush’s partner Tony Blair has presided over what amounts to a 21st century Gilded Age, an unprecedented degradation of English cultural life, a glorification of Anglo-American Empire, and an astounding transfer of wealth to the upper classes.

In China, hundreds of millions go hungry while politically well-connected entrepreneurial cadres cash in on real estate and stock market booms underpinned by industrialization for the benefit of international corporations relocating to low-wage countries.

In India, hundreds of millions of farmers are to be removed from their land in the countryside and placed in relocation camps and urban slums, where they have no prospects for advancement, so that global corporations can pursue industrial schemes and large-scale industrial agriculture which will greedily deplete the already scarce water resources. Stock markets and urban real estate markets are creating new classes of super-rich Indians, who increasingly live in a world completely separate from the vast majority of their fellow-citizens.

In France, the new President, Nicolas Sarkozy, won on a platform of harsh law and order police state programs, open racism and the dismantling of France’s generous social programs.

Across Europe, the EU bureaucracy has implemented a program of monetary austerity overseen by a secretive central bank that essentially strips European Union countries of their ability to conduct fiscal policy, and to preserve their generous universal social services. EU elites still seek to ratify an undemocratic and regressive European Union Constitution even though it was resoundingly defeated at the polls over the last few years across the continent.

Meanwhile, global warming proceeds apace. Yet no significant collective response has been organized on a global basis, thanks to the recalcitrance of the world’s biggest energy consumer, the United States. Despite escalating concerns about climate change, massive soil erosion, food shortages, water shortages, and environmental degradation around the world, global consumption of energy continues to increase rapidly. As global energy production fails to meet growing demand, governments around the world are gearing up for a dangerous new round of resource wars, both cold and hot, in which America, Russia, China, India, Iran and other major players compete to control ever more precious energy resources.

Government officials, news media, and rock stars all agree that individuals must make sacrifices to help out in the face of the growing global energy and environmental crisis.

There is no mention of the fact that only concerted collective action by governments at the local, state, federal and international levels can mobilize the resources and fashion the regulations and laws required to produce the vast systemic changes required to avert disaster. There is no mention of the fact that world peace must be the foundation for all efforts to avert the twin energy and environmental crises.

America currently spends about $1 trillion per year on its military operations. Imagine if America declared peace to be the foundation of its foreign policy.

Imagine that America took just 2/3 of its current military budget, some $666 billion per year, and earmarked it for subsidies for development of alternative energy, for development of educational programs for organic farming practices, for subsidies for small scale sustainable farms, for subsidies for homeowners and businesses and cities to implement energy saving technologies and policies, and for aid to bio-regions in need of environmental reconstruction, such as the restoration of wetlands in Louisiana and Florida.

Imagine if America imposed new regulations on international corporations requiring them to meet energy efficiency standards, international labor standards and strict environmental guidelines in all their operations, both foreign and domestic, or face stiff penalties, including and up to dissolution of their operations.

Imagine if America declared a new policy of income redistribution and Fair Play: the creation of a wealth tax designed to force the wealthiest 5% of Americans to pay their fair share of the collective cost of maintaining the global social, legal, governmental, military and political infrastructure paid for by American tax dollars, since the wealthiest are the ones who benefit the most from this grand cultural achievement.

According to a May 18 article in the Baltimore Sun, “The top 1 percent of Americans are now receiving the largest share of national income since the pre-Great Depression year 1928. The top 10 percent get 48.5 percent of total income, an obscene rate of inequality. According to Princeton University Prof. Peter Singer, the top 0.01 percent of taxpayers, or 14,000 Americans, earn an average of $12.7 million each, with total earnings of $184 billion. The rest of the 0.1 percent, 129,600 individuals, now have an average income of just over $2 million. And the top 0.5, or 575,900, have an average income of $623,000.”

“Prof. Singer calculates that if the folks in the top 10 percent gave away between 10 percent to 30 percent of their income, it would raise $404 billion, an amount that would eliminate half of global poverty. And they would not be left to scrimp on their sumptuous lifestyles.”

Imagine if frequent flyers, owners of multiple large homes, and consistent large-scale corporate and individual polluters had to pay hefty fees for the privilege of spoiling the commons?

Imagine if these taxes, which would come to a few hundred billion dollars per year, were earmarked for universal health care and merit scholarships to deserving youth. Insurance companies would be disbanded, and great economies would result since it is well known that management costs for Medicare are only a tiny fraction of the management costs for private health care plans in America.

Imagine if America simply dissolved the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and promoted the creation of regional consortiums of locally controlled financial institutions to provide investment credits for environmentally sound sustainable development.

Changes like that would truly rock the world!

But, you may say, such changes are politically impossible. Unthinkable! Just pipe dreams.

Well, that’s what experts, opinion leaders and officials around the world said in the mid 1980s when asked if fundamental restructuring of the Brezhnev era Soviet Union would ever be possible. Only a major war or total civilizational collapse could bring about change

And they were totally wrong. Is there any reason to believe that America today is like the Soviet Union in the time of Brezhnev? I think so, and I have detailed the similarities in an article entitled “Bush and Brezhnev: Separated at Birth?

The Bush-Cheney plan to promote war with Iran is faltering. Just as the Soviets met their Waterloo under Brezhnev in Afghanistan, in a war featuring jidhadists trained by Pakistani secret service cadres, the neo-conservative global war on terror is floundering in the deep, murky waters of Afghanistan and Iraq, as the world’s mightiest military machine appears to be stalemated by a motley group of Sunni Islamic jihadists with roots in the mujahideen movement brought to birth by Pakistani Secret Service operatives in the late Nineteen Eighties.

Pakistan is replacing Iran as the focus for global concern about terrorism. This is ironic since there has been an almost total news blackout in America of the role Pakistan played in supporting Islamic terrorism over the years – at Washington’s request.

America’s elite opinion-makers are belatedly waking up to the fact that Bush’s Pakistani partner, the military dictator Pervez Musharraf, is one of the primary supporters of the Taliban and of al-Qaeda. Indeed, Musharraf is a product of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, which armed and trained the mujahideen, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban, at the request of and with funding provided by the CIA, during the Afghani-Russian war. Now that Musharraf is being forced to confront his old allies, armed struggle has broken out between the Islamists and their old mentor Musharraf. That struggle has the potential to foment a destabilizing and dangerous civil war in a nuclear armed country with a vast military culture wedded to Islamic jihad and packed with Islamic fundamentalists sympathetic to al-Qaeda, who would like to transform Pakistan into the world’s first nuclear Jihadist.

In fact, your editor Curtis Lang appeared on Pacifica radio two days after 9/11 warning that the goal of al-Qaeda was clearly to draw the United States into unwinnable wars in the Middle East which would lead to a destabilizing civil war in Pakistan, where al-Qaeda and their allies have their greatest strength, because the ultimate goal of Islamic terrorists has always been to obtain control of Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. We now approach the endgame of the chess match begun the day the Twin Towers fell.

Radical change is in the air worldwide, and the well-formulated plans of the neo-conservative masters of the New American Empire are foundering on uncontrollable factors beyond their calculations. Blowback from previous covert wars, instigated by Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr., threatens to derail George Bush Jr.’s global war on terrorism and bring about a final humiliating defeat, perhaps producing the world’s first true rogue terrorist nuclear power.

Aside from such grand political theorizing, are there any insights into grand historical cycles and mass psychology available to us from spiritual studies that might shed light on the current global dilemma and on America’s strangely passive acceptance of its transformation from beacon of hope, equal opportunity and democracy into Imperial overseer and promoter of torture, authoritarianism and inequality?

In fact there are!

This month, we are proud to introduce our readers to the inspired, insightful astrologer Bill Herbst, a longtime contributing editor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, America’s premier magazine for astrological professionals, and a veteran observer of the outer planet cycles that shape and channel the transformational cultural and social energies overlighting the evolution of entire civilizations on planet Earth.

We welcome Bill to Satya Center, and recommend his new article entitled “Where We Are; Where We're Headed -- The Road to 2012.

“On June 25th, Saturn made its final pass opposite Neptune, and that is very meaningful,” Herbst contends. “Our collective disillusionment, social malaise, and the longstanding sense of being lost in confusion while sinking in quicksand are peaking right now after almost four years of Saturn-Neptune's scandalous revelations, endless deception, and fantasies polarized to realities.”

“From July on, all that weirdness slowly fades away, although it won't be gone for good until the beginning of 2008. Meanwhile, rising up in sporadic but increasing waves to replace it will be the electric, shocking Saturn-Uranus-Pluto energy of the Cardinal Climax. In fits and starts, people will start to awaken from their slumber, realize how fed up they are, and begin to actively challenge the status quo.”

It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that numerous outer planet aspects over the next decade indicate a resurgence of people power in America and throughout the world.

Astrologer Michael Wolfstar at StarIQ.com foresees a period of increasing repression leading to a dynamic and volcanic upheaval that will re-arrange existing power structures and fulfill the promise of the Cultural Revolution begun in the Nineteen Sixties, and relates this next revolution to the Pluto in Capricorn cycle.

“When considering the U.S. Scorpio Rising horoscope, Pluto's 248-year cycle is especially significant for Americans, since it's the nation's ruling planet,” says Wolfstar. “The U.S. was born when Pluto was in Capricorn, and its entire history has so far unfolded within one Pluto cycle.”

“Pluto's passage through Capricorn covers from 2009 to 2024, with a brief foray in early 2008 amidst the presidential primaries. During this interval, we can expect geopolitical power to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of the super-rich, which in turn will express itself through governments, corporations, and military organizations,” Wolfstar continues.

“Many governments may become oppressive under Pluto's influence, and consequently, one can expect powerful, secretive factions to rebel,” Wolfstar foresees. “Naturally, that includes terrorist groups, but ordinary citizens as well. This pattern was what caused the thirteen colonies to begin revolting in 1764 shortly after Pluto last entered Capricorn. At the time, Uranus was in Aries, which created a compelling urge for freedom and independence.”

“That historical lesson is especially relevant today, since Uranus will soon enter Aries and then square Pluto beginning in 2012,” Wolfstar concludes. “The Uranus-Pluto square will likely be the defining celestial signature for the Pluto in Capricorn era, bringing the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in 1965-66 (and the concurrent social, political, and military revolutions) into its next dynamic phase. Everything that was spawned in 1965-66 will take quantum leaps forward, including civil rights, paradigm-busting technologies, and the management of global ecosystems.”

And are there any signs that the revolutionary energies foreseen by astrologers are manifesting in the world around us? This week’s newsletter brings us several stories from around the web that can be seen as indicating the first hints of the positive, revolutionary changes coming in the next decades. Scroll down for excerpts and links to the originals.

The UK Guardian says that the middle and upper middle classes in England are rebelling against the Gilded Era Imperialism-lite practiced by Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

Russian dissident economist Boris Kagarlitsky posts a lengthy first-hand report of “The Blockade of Heiligendamm”, the amazing story of the most successful anti-globalization protest of all time. Progressive forces from all over Europe gathered in Heiligendamm, Germany this spring to protest the G-8 Summit and demand an end to elite-driven policies of globalization that are destroying the environment, gutting democracy and increasing inequalities of wealth and opportunity worldwide.

Tens of thousands of individuals of all ages gathered spontaneously and in a triumph of self-organization and grass-roots democracy they conducted a successful, peaceful multi-day blockade of the city where the Summit was held, transforming public opinion in Germany and across Europe. Successfully out-maneuvering and outsmarting massive police and military forces arrayed against them, capturing headlines and media time, shaping public discourse and staging a vast array of educational workshops on the dangers of globalization, the anti-globalization forces in Germany proved to the world that left-wing reformers have the strength of will, the diplomatic skills, the discipline, and the institutional support to advance a well-developed, thoughtful, and appealing political agenda in the face of massive state repression.

The left-wing reformers demonstrated that their commitment is to the peaceful exercise of people power, and that the vast majority of anti-globalization forces are not prey to adventuristic anarchistic impulses.

This is a story you didn’t see in the American media, anywhere!

In America, Hillary Clinton is touring the country delivering soundbites about bringing the troops home. And this is the woman who refuses to admit she made a mistake in authorizing Bush’s Iraq war, the woman who says that all options, even nuclear war, should be considered to force Iran to do America’s bidding.

The first stirrings of fundamental change are in the air in America, in Europe, in Britain, in the heart of the globalization beast, in the heart of global Empire – and around the world.

On July 7, the 24 hour global concert LiveEarth beamed live concerts by over 100 musical acts from multiple locations including New York, Hamburg, London, Sydney, Rio and Tokyo to over two billion people, including 10 million Internet viewers who saw the event on the Microsoft Network’s live Webcast. This was the largest global concert event in world history.

Live Earth was the beginning of a multi-year campaign by the Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP) to raise awareness about climate change and to lobby individuals, corporations and governments to take action to stabilize the environment. Former Vice President Al Gore is the most visible spokesman for the ACP and its campaign.

The mainstream news media in Britain and the United States portrayed the event as a boring, predictable rock concert with too many pampered self-indulgent rock stars using too many scarce global resources to deliver overly long tendentious environmental messages that undercut the power of their music.

Interesting that many of these news outlets say that global warming is only a theory and then get very upset because Al Gore has a big house, Madonna invests in oil and gas companies, and rock stars involved in campaigns to raise environmental awareness use a lot of jet fuel during their concert tours.

Celebrity political activism is a hollow construct at best, and should be no more than a very peripheral political exercise, designed to build community and provide a patina of cool to the pursuit of green political solutions, the purchase of green products or the espousal of green positions.

And there is something inherently contradictory about the spectacle of millionaire environmental advocates lecturing the masses about the need for reducing consumption, curtailing unnecessary travel, reducing the size of your house and car, and generally living lighter on the earth.

Nevertheless, Live Earth proved that there are a couple of billion people ready for a global party to celebrate the coalescing world majority that supports dramatic changes in business as usual and dramatic action to create a new post-carbon, energy-efficient, sustainable global culture. That’s good news.

“Admittedly, empires will not give up without a fight, and not just because of the elites in power,” explains astrologer Bill Herbst in this month’s issue of “The Mountain Astrologer”. “We are all part of empire – plugged into the electrical grid, driving automobiles, and resistant to giving up our habitual conveniences. Hybrid vehicles and renewable biofuels are now hot topics, but such ‘solutions’ do nothing to solve the problems of resource depletion and industrial toxins, since cars themselves are the problem. Rebuilding our railroads and waterways for efficient mass transit is barely discussed, however. In this and other arenas – especially politics, economics and the mass media – the myths of modern empire stubbornly hold us in their thrall. Great debates lie ahead concerning the uses of science and technology in transportation, the military, medicine and agriculture.”

“The youthful movements that were birthed (or rebirthed) during the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the 1960s – ecology, feminism, social equality, peace, reduced consumption, and sustainability – are about to move from the fringes to the center,” Herbst continues. “. . .Now those movements are ready to grow again into fuller, more mature manifestation, called forth by sudden breakdowns in empire. Political, economic and cultural landscapes are about to change dramatically. The year 2007 marks the transition into this reawakening of alternative possibilities. . .By the U.S. presidential election of November 2008, discontent with the status quo will have struck a resonant chord. . .As the t-square of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto activates from late 2009-2011, any of various triggers could provoke breakdowns in social stability. History tells us that empires become most dangerous as they decline, resorting to ever more extreme measures in desperate attempts to maintain control. We are in the fading period of the American Empire, and the years ahead may be daunting. Critical mass is reached in June 2012, when Uranus and Pluto make the first partile square. The rest of the decade should be turbulent indeed.”

“Stay alive, [and] keep breathing,” Herbst advises those who currently feel stymied, exhausted, fearful and frustrated, “and know that real change is just around the corner.”

May you receive the grace and guidance you need to replenish your personal energy storehouse at this time of global transformation, and may each and every one of you be Divinely guided to connect with those like-minded souls with whom you share an affinity for peace, truth and justice, in order to fulfill your Higher Purpose and in order to create ever more meaningful and powerful social groupings working for positive change in the world.


Top Satya Center Stories of the Week

In  “The Right of Return, British peace activist, visionary astrologer and author Palden Jenkins explains why time is short for Palestinians and Israelis to co-operate in creating a just peace in the Middle East.

“The question of the Palestinian Right of Return is big and crucial,” Palden declares. “But the discussion is predicated on factors and notions which do not really help the debate or a solution. This issue needs to be looked at, to some extent separately, in two different ways: the first concerns deep emotional-historical issues and principles, which are being discussed, and the second concerns planning, sustainability and real-life viability issues, which largely are obscured.”

Read Palden’s article to explore the deep issues that the mainstream news media routinely ignores.

In “The Unbearable Brightness of Being”, British biologist Rupert Sheldrake reviews a new book by American philosopher Daniel Dennett that equates mysticism with fundamentalist religious fanaticism and makes a case for rational atheism.

“Many people have experienced a sense of the presence of God, or overwhelming love, or a feeling of unity with nature, or visions, or transformative near-death experiences,” says Sheldrake. “. . .But Dennett rules all such evidence out of court. . .He assumes that religious experiences are generated inside the brain, and that they are illusory. How can Dennett be so sure? In the end, it all comes down to his own beliefs.”

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho’s British Institute of Science in Society brings us a challenging article on “The Fight Over the BP-Berkeley Energy BioScience Institute”.

The University of California at Berkeley is structuring an unprecedented deal with British oil giant British Petroleum to fund an Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) for biofuels and ‘synthetic biology' research to the tune of $500 million over the next ten years.

The biofuels boom is already having devastating effects on the world's poorest countries and on planet as a whole by accelerating deforestation and climate change. The $500 million takeover of Berkeley by BP threatens to bring catastrophic climate change that much closer, while eroding the intellectual objectivity of American universities, which are in danger of becoming mere research and development arms of global corporations.

A coalition of Berkeley students and faculty oppose this sweetheart deal with BP. Read all about their fight to keep Berkeley a bastion of academic freedom and free speech.

In “Any Kind of Sovereign”, poet Jed Myers explores the illusion of the separate self as mental illness in this humorous new metaphysical poem.


Top Spiritual Stories From Around the Web

[Ed. Note: These are excerpts from long articles Jane and I feel are exceptional messages of love and light, with important information for all Lightworkers. If you resonate with their energy, click on the links for more. . .]

If It Feels Good to Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural
By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 28, 2007; A01

The e-mail came from the next room.

"You gotta see this!" Jorge Moll had written. Moll and Jordan Grafman, neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health, had been scanning the brains of volunteers as they were asked to think about a scenario involving either donating a sum of money to charity or keeping it for themselves.

As Grafman read the e-mail, Moll came bursting in. The scientists stared at each other. Grafman was thinking, "Whoa -- wait a minute!"

The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.

Their 2006 finding that unselfishness can feel good lends scientific support to the admonitions of spiritual leaders such as Saint Francis of Assisi, who said, "For it is in giving that we receive." But it is also a dramatic example of the way neuroscience has begun to elbow its way into discussions about morality and has opened up a new window on what it means to be good.

Grafman and others are using brain imaging and psychological experiments to study whether the brain has a built-in moral compass. The results -- many of them published just in recent months -- are showing, unexpectedly, that many aspects of morality appear to be hard-wired in the brain, most likely the result of evolutionary processes that began in other species.


ascent magazine
Divine Mother is waiting to deliver us from illusion
By Swami Radhananda

There is a story of how Divine Mother, in her sorrow, cried tears over how people had harmed themselves through their own jealousy, self-justification, greed, pride and selfishness. Each of Her teardrops falls to Earth and becomes a devotee, willing to do Divine Mother’s work, the highest and most blissful aspiration there is.

What is Divine Mother’s work? She is the force of compassion and caring, so needed yet so often unrecognized in our world. She offers a creativity that destroys rigid thinking. She is receptive to new thoughts and can birth new ideas. We can become Her devotees by seeing Her Light in all of our experiences. When you can see Her life-giving rays even in desperate human tragedies, you begin to understand how much there is to learn and how fragile our existence is. It’s important to give wholeheartedly back to life. A different vibration of gratitude is set in motion, a clearer way of looking at the world and the mystery it holds.

Create an image of Divine Mother in your mind, with an awareness that this is creativity at its highest. Most of us create through sex, through art, through work, through all of our actions. The creative force is just constantly creating, so we have to keep clearing things out and being aware of what we are creating. The force behind creation comes through from the unmanifest – you can think of it as thought, and sometimes it’s not even your own thought. But it has energy and it becomes very concrete in some way.

If we put energy into thoughts, they become quite solid and sometimes it is very hard to get rid of a solidified concept. We ordinarily load ourselves up with concepts and stories and desires and wants and worries and obligations and resentments. All that power can be redirected for our benefit and the benefit of others. If we can be straight, considerate and caring, we can build the foundation for attaining the power of discrimination and compassion, which is the potential of humanity.

Shambala Sun
Listening Deeply for Peace
By Thich Nhat Hanh

Without deep listening and gentle loving speech it is very difficult to move towards peace. Peace will only become a reality, says Thich Nhat Hanh, when world leaders come to negotiations with the ability to hear the suffering at the root of all conflicts.

A traditional Vietnamese Zen garden is very different from a Japanese Zen garden. Our Zen gardens, called hon non bo, are wild and exuberant, more playful than the formal Japanese gardens with their restrained patterns. Vietnamese Zen gardens are seriously unserious. For us, the whole world is contained in this peaceful place. All activities of life unfold in true peace in the garden: in one part, children will be playing, and in another part, some elderly men will be having a chess game; couples are walking; families are having picnics; animals are free to wander around. Beautiful trees are growing next to abundant grasses and flowers. There is water, and there are rock formations. All ecologies are represented in this one microecology without discrimination. It is a miniature, peaceful world. It is a beautiful living metaphor for what a new global ethic could bring.

War is not a necessary condition of life. The root of war, as with all conflicts, is ignorance, ignorance of the inherent goodness—the buddhanature—in every human being. The potential for ignorance lives in all of us; it gives rise to misunderstanding, which can lead to violent thoughts and behavior. Although ignorance and violence may not have manifested in your life, when conditions are sufficient, they can. This is why we all have to be very careful not to water these seeds and not to allow them to develop roots and grow into arrows.

The Roots of War

When one country attacks another, it is out of great fear and a kind of collective ignorance. For instance, the French fought to keep Vietnam as their colony, because they thought that if they possessed Vietnam, they would be happy. So they sent many young men to Vietnam to kill and to be killed. We know, when we look deeply, that happiness does not come from possessing something or someone; it comes from kindness and compassion, from helping to ease suffering.

If the American people had sat down and practiced looking deeply, they would have seen that the Vietnam War was entirely unnecessary, that their own lives could not be improved through the suffering of another country or the suffering of their own young men. The United States senselessly wasted many lives in this war when it could have supported both North and South Vietnam in their different models of development, helping the Communists and the non-Communists alike to rebuild their societies. This would have been much wiser than supporting one side and fighting the other. If France and the United States had yielded autonomy to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, helping these countries to develop instead of waging war, all sides would have profited from such a friendly relationship. After a long period of suffering, these countries are finally moving in this direction, but this could have happened much earlier without the terrible loss of life.

All violence is injustice. We should not inflict that injustice on ourselves or on other people. Historians and teachers as well as politicians should look deeply at the suffering caused by wars, not just at the justifications that governments give for them. We have to teach our children the truth about war so they learn from our experiences and understand that violence and war are not the right way, that they are not the right actions to take. We have to show our children that people on both sides of war—the French and American soldiers in Vietnam as well as the Vietnamese people—were victims of the ignorance and violence rooted in their societies and governments. Remember, there were no winners.

As long as we allow hatred to grow in us, we continue to make ourselves and others suffer. As we look deeply at the wars in our recent history, we have to transform our hatred and misunderstanding into compassion. We have to recognize that those who have made us suffer are also victims. Many who had a father, brother or friend killed in the Vietnam War have been able to transcend their suffering and to reconcile with the other side, Vietnamese and American. They have done this for their own sake and for the sake of their children.


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Top News Stories From Around the Web

[Ed. Note: These are excerpts from lengthy news stories that provide the analytical context, the intellectual framework, the historical analysis, that is so completely missing from most so-called news in the mainstream media. If you are interested in the topic, click on the link provided to read more. . .]

Privatizing Responsibility: the Times On Green Consumerism
Alex Steffen
July 1, 2007 12:44 AM

  Getting misunderstood by the New York Times is a strange experience: it's a bit frustrating, but you have to still be kind of flattered that it happened at all.

   So I certainly have a mixed emotions about the Times' story today, Buying Into the Green Movement:

    HERE’S one popular vision for saving the planet: Roll out from under the sumptuous hemp-fiber sheets on your bed in the morning and pull on a pair of $245 organic cotton Levi’s and an Armani biodegradable knit shirt. Stroll from the bedroom in your eco-McMansion, with its photovoltaic solar panels, into the kitchen remodeled with reclaimed lumber. Enter the three-car garage lighted by energy-sipping fluorescent bulbs and slip behind the wheel of your $104,000 Lexus hybrid. Drive to the airport, where you settle in for an 8,000-mile flight— careful to buy carbon offsets beforehand — and spend a week driving golf balls made from compacted fish food at an eco-resort in the Maldives.

    That vision of an eco-sensitive life as a series of choices about what to buy appeals to millions of consumers and arguably defines the current environmental movement as equal parts concern for the earth and for making a stylish statement. ...

    “There is a very common mind-set right now which holds that all that we’re going to need to do to avert the large-scale planetary catastrophes upon us is make slightly different shopping decisions,” said Alex Steffen, the executive editor of Worldchanging.com, a Web site devoted to sustainability issues.

    The genuine solution, he and other critics say, is to significantly reduce one’s consumption of goods and resources. It’s not enough to build a vacation home of recycled lumber; the real way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to only own one home.

Actually, as I told Alex Williams (who, it should be noted, did an otherwise excellent job), I believe something quite different: that the genuine solution is not a matter of consumer choice at all.

There is no combination of purchasing decisions which will make the current affluent American lifestyle sustainable. You can't shop your way to sustainability, as I've put it before. On a planet running up against so severe a set of deadlines -- global warming, the extinction crisis, the poverty crisis, etc. -- prosperity as currently delivered is frankly immoral, even when purchased with an eco-chic package.

That doesn't mean that I think prosperity itself is wrong. Quite the opposite. Nor do I think we could talk people out of wanting prosperity if we tried -- heck, I hope for a generous amount of prosperity myself, one day. But we need to redesign prosperity, using innovation, new thinking and new technologies to render it sustainable.

And here's the essential break between lite green and bright green thinking: the reality is that the changes we must make are systemic changes. They involve large-scale transformations in the ways we plan our cities, manufacture goods, grow food, transport ourselves, and generate energy. They involve new international regulatory regimes, corporate strategies, industrial standards, tax systems and trading markets. If we want to change the world, we need to forge ourselves into the kinds of citizens who can effectively demand such things.

Dire practicality demands that we reject the privatization of responsibility. None of us can make this great transformation happen alone, and it removes pressure from our leaders to take needed steps when some suggest that the changes that need to be made in the world start with our personal choices. They don't.


The Guardian
The middle classes have discovered they've been duped by the super-rich
Never have so many of us appeared so well-off yet felt so poor - and we used to believe obscene wealth was victimless
Madeleine Bunting
Monday June 25, 2007

Public opinion can sometimes shift suddenly, and a new consensus emerge with striking force as familiar details are re-ordered, rather as a kaleidoscope makes a new pattern. That's what is happening now: inequality has been the lonely preserve of hoary class warriors worried about child poverty for much of the past decade. No longer. Inequality has shifted to the centreground of politics; it has been propelled there not, however, by a sudden outbreak of social conscience worried by poverty in the UK, but by the increasingly powerful sense of grievance of middle England.

If you want to understand this gathering storm, check out the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Spectator - even Tatler. You could see it in the coverage last week of the private equity bosses hauled up before the Commons select committee to defend their paltry tax returns, or the news reports that "non doms", those resident but not domiciled in the UK, don't pay stamp duty.

"It's not fair" is the indignant cry, and out tumbles a self-pitying litany of dispossession and deprivation. The middle classes, normally a bastion of effortless entitlement, are feeling very hard done by. It's the struggle to scrape together the half a million required for a modest south-east house with some cash spare to pay the childcare; the scramble for a half-decent school; the prospect of pathetic pensions; and the impossibility of easing their own children's university debts, let alone their entry into the London housing market. These last, assistance to the next generation, were key to how the middle class reproduced itself so successfully - but no longer.

Never have the middle classes looked so rich on paper - house values topping a million - and felt so poor. As Lloyd Evans put it in a Spectator column last month after buying his first house: "In theory, we're halfway to being millionaires. Yet we don't have a car, we can barely afford a holiday, and when we go for a drink, we sit on the green outside the pub, quaffing Tesco £2.99 Frascati to save money."

What's slowly dawning on middle England is that they've been duped: they were sold a line - a "fair deal for hard-working families"; meanwhile, another very different scenario was unfolding. Britain became the world's billionaire playground, attracting the super-rich with such a generous tax regime that in April the IMF went so far as to define the City of London as effectively a tax haven. The wealth of Britain's top 1,000 has quadrupled since 1997 and the rate of growth is now spiralling out of control - a massive 20% jump in the past year. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have happily presided over an unprecedented golden age of wealth accumulation in this country - on a par with the US in Gatsby's Roaring Twenties.

ZNet Top Stories
The Blockade of Heiligendamm
by Boris Kagarlitsky
July 04, 2007

“God knows what’s happening here! There are water cannons, there’s tear gas, police, tanks!”

This was a phone call from Rostock. . . That evening, the television showed skirmishes on the streets of Rostock. True, the reporting was very brief and restrained. The situation was starting to become clearer.

The demonstration timed to coincide with the opening of the G8 summit in Germany had been projected to be massive and peaceful. Left-wing sources put the attendance at around 80,000 people, from almost every corner of Europe. Everyone knew in advance that clashes could occur, but both sides, activists and police alike, hoped that everything would pass off smoothly. Rostock is the capital of the German province of Mecklenburg-Pomerania, where power is held by a coalition government headed by the social democrats, and in which the Left Party (Linkspartei) was until recently a participant. The local police had been instructed to show restraint, and the demonstrators had not wanted to embarrass a friendly administration. The federal police, it is true, were taking a much more decisive line, so that there were obvious disagreements among the authorities. The organising committee for the Rostock protests had successfully exploited this situation, constantly criticising the ruling groups and forcing them to justify themselves. “For the first time in many years we are on the ideological offensive,” explained Peter Wahl, one of the committee’s leaders. “Now the press is publishing our point of view, and the government is losing the debate. We’ve won ourselves a tribune!”

. . .By morning, the main forces of the antiglobalists had united in two columns of five thousand people each, with approximately two thousand people in reserve. One column, leaving the township of Bad Doberan and moving along the wall, was supposed to block the western gates of Heiligendamm. The second column was to set out from the village of Rabenhorst and to blockade the eastern gates. The leaders of each detachment had first-rate maps which and combatant in the Second World War would have envied. Everyone knew their place and carried out orders to the letter.

. . .In parallel with the actions on the roads, an alternative summit had opened in Rostock. The goal was to draw public attention to the social and environmental problems on account of which, properly speaking, the protest had been mounted. Here there were speakers on the war in Iraq, on global warming and on the inaction of the West (with special attention paid to the US). There were also discussions on the workers’ movement and education. A decision was taken not to expose prominent people to danger, and the counter-summit was therefore held a good way from the main events. Nevertheless, the participants in the discussions were concerned above all with how things were going near Heiligendamm. The Austrian trade union leader Hermann Dworczak outlined the movements of the detachments on a map. From time to time someone would bring in the latest news, received by mobile telephone. The crowd of people filling the vast halls of the Gothic churches would erupt in shouts of delight or indignation. 

The fact that the discussions were taking place in church halls was no accident. The German evangelical church strongly supported the protest, not only offering its premises to the antiglobalists, but also helping to mobilise the faithful to participate in the events. It was not least for this reason that the antiglobalist actions could not be presented as hooligan escapades. Germany is not the most religious of countries, but the authority of the church is sufficiently great that its position cannot simply be ignored. Representatives of the church had joined with environmental organisations in demanding that the G8 take decisive measures to protect the climate; had criticised the war in Iraq; and had called for the withdrawal of German soldiers from Afghanistan.

. . .By the evening of June 6 the participants in the demonstrations were feeling a sense of triumph. It was as though their happiness were pouring forth into the atmosphere. The jubilation could be read on the faces of the people arriving from the blockade site, and could be sensed almost physically in the press center of the counter-summit, on the streets, and in the official tent at the camp.

. . .Rostock had transformed the image of radical leftists in the European press. Now, no-one tried any more to depict them as a mindless crowd of hooligans who themselves did not know what they wanted, and who only knew how to smash windows and fight police. Even the violence of the first days was far less than the press had reported. Of the hundreds of police who were supposed to have been hurt, only one was hospitalised with serious injuries. Only one car was burnt, though photographs of it appeared in newspapers throughout the world. As for other property damage, the shop-owners who covered their windows with plywood were wasting their money. The windows that had remained uncovered were left untouched.

Jun 30, 2007
A pipeline into the heart of Europe
By M K Bhadrakumar

Not many people know that Russian President Vladimir Putin co-authored in 2004 a fascinating book on classical judo titled Judo: History, Theory, Practice. In his book, Putin describes how with "minimum effort, maximum effect", it becomes possible to bring your opponent flying on to the mat. The trick is to "give way in order to conquer".

When Putin flew into Zagreb last weekend, his words came to mind - instead of "digging in your heels and resisting your opponent's onslaught", you just unlock at the last minute, and your big and strong opponent, "not meeting any resistance and unable to stop", will lose balance and fall. It seems the bigger the opponent, the heavier he falls.

. . .Russia has swiftly moved to consolidate the gains of Putin's energy summit with his Kazakh and Turkmen counterparts on May 11-13. The trilateral Central Asian summit had agreed, among other things, to modernize and enlarge the gas capacity of the Soviet-era pipelines that run from Central Asia to Russia; to increase the volume of gas exports from Central Asia via Russian pipelines; to deepen further Russian participation in developing Turkmenistan's gas reserves; and to commit long-term Kazakh oil exports to Russian pipelines.

As per the assessment by an American area specialist, "Western energy policies in Eurasia collapsed in May 2007. During this month, Russia seems to have conclusively defeated all Western-backed projects to bring oil and gas from Central Asia directly to Europe ... Cumulatively, the May agreements signify a strategic defeat of the decade-old US policy to open direct access to Central Asia's oil and gas reserves. By the same token they have nipped in the bud the European Union's belated attempts since 2006 to institute such a policy."

Jul 6, 2007   
Net closes on mosque - and Pakistan
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - A fierce battle to seize Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in Pakistan has begun from the capital Islamabad, where hundreds of militants holed up in the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) are surrounded by 12,000 Pakistani troops.

Significantly, Lal Masjid has become the rallying point for jihadis against the establishment. The country's jihadis have traditionally fought under the umbrella of the state in Kashmir or in Afghanistan - not against their own government.

Security forces, after delaying for months, began their assault on Lal Masjid on Tuesday, despite very real fears that the action would inflame radicals across the country, especially in the pro-Taliban tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.

Since then, at least 24 people have died, including militants, security officers and bystanders. Scores have been injured. More than 2,000 students at the mosque and nearby seminaries for men and women have surrendered to the authorities. And one of the two outspoken brothers who run the mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was arrested while trying to flee under disguise of a woman's burqa (veil). His brother, Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, is still in the mosque.

Although the director general of the Pakistan Army's Inter Services Public Relations, Major-General Waheed Arshad, has denied any direct military involvement in the crackdown, tanks fired shells at Lal Masjid in the early hours of Thursday, apparently destroying its front wall.

More than 100 armed militants are thought to be well entrenched in the women's seminary adjacent to the mosque as well as in the mosque itself. The government has let several deadlines for the students to surrender expire. The latest was 12:30pm local time on Thursday. Circling Cobra helicopter gunships received heavy fire from within the mosque.

Why wheat shot up 30% in 3 weeks
21.6.07 | 14:39   By Sarit Menahem

The price of wheat shot up 30% in less than a month, to a 12-year high of around $420 to around $600 for 5,000 bushels. Now, wheat is a main component of the cost of flour (90% in Israel). Therefore the spike in its price means that the cost of bread is about to rise.

In Israel, the prices of basic breads are regulated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. But you can expect the price of bakery or specialty breads to climb, and by a lot, to compensate for losses on regulated bread.

The spike in wheat is a hot-button topic on the global agenda. What happened?

Experts say that the global stockpile of wheat has fallen to its lowest level in 26 years. Global warming is changing weather patterns. Harvests are down and in parallel, the explosive economic growth in China has increased consumption of "western items", and guess what, that includes wheat.

Some also blame speculators, hedge funds specifically, for increasing the volatility of commodity futures.


Global Research
Displacing farmers: India Will Have 400 million Agricultural Refugees
Neoliberal Reforms Wreak Havoc
by Devinder Sharma
June 22, 2007

It was on the cards. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announcing the formation of a new rehabilitation policy for farmers displaced from land acquisitions, it is now official -- farmers have to quit agriculture.

Ever since the Congress-led UPA Coalition assumed power after an angry rural protest vote threw out the erstwhile BJP-led NDA combination in May 2004, the Prime Minister had initiated a plethora of new policies for the spread of industrialization. After having laid the policy framework that allows private control over community resources – water, biodiversity, forests, seeds, agriculture markets, and mineral resources -- the UPA government finally looked at the possibility of divesting the poor people of their only economic security – a meagre piece of land holding.

“Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is an idea whose time has come,” the Prime Minister had said at an award ceremony in Mumbai sometimes back. Supported by all political parties, including the Left Front, he has actually officiated a nationwide campaign to displace farmers. Almost 500 special economic zones are being carved out (see The New Maharajas of India). What is however less known is that successive government’s are actually following a policy prescription that had been laid out by the World Bank as early as in 1995.

A former vice-president of the World Bank and a former chairman of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a body that governs the 16 international agricultural research centers, Dr Ismail Serageldin, had forewarned a number of years ago. At a conference organised by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai a few years back, he quoted the World Bank to say that the number of people estimated to migrate from rural to urban India by the year 2015 is expected to be equal to twice the combined population of UK, France and Germany.

The combined population of UK, France and Germany is 200 million. The World Bank had therefore estimated that some 400 million people would be willingly or unwillingly moving from the rural to urban centres by 2015. Subsequent studies have shown that massive distress migration will result in the years to come. For instance, 70 per cent of Tamil Nadu, 65 per cent of Punjab, and nearly 55 per cent of Uttar Pradesh is expected to migrate to urban centres by the year 2020.

These 400 million displaced will constitute the new class of migrants – agricultural refugees. Twice the number of people that are expected to be displaced by global warming worldwide are alone be pushed out of agriculture in India.


June 22, 2007
Farmer Preservation : It Won't Come from Agricultural Theme Parks

    "Between 2005 and 2006, the number of farms in America dropped by 9,000. There are now less than 2 million farms, 160,000 fewer than there were in 1987, according to the USDA." --Adam Gorlick, AP, 5/16/07

Last week another farmer (Jim) and I travelled to nearby Springvale, Maine where the Three Rivers Land Trust was sponsoring a presentation. The subject was farmland preservation. Jim and I serve as board members of a local land trust and we sometimes go to events like this. As usual, it was a pleasant evening and we all carefully averted our eyes from the corpse of American agriculture slumped in the corner.

Don't get me wrong. The industrial production of consumeable commodities is roaring along, based unfortunately on the ruin of both the producer and the land. But hey, there's lots of stuff in the supermarket. Simply put, the 100 year run of democratized and decentralized agriculture had its day. That day is just over. That's all.

Today we're rapidly returning to an old model. In 1987, Mark Richie and Kevin Ristau of the League of Rural Voters Education Project wrote,

    "From the earliest days of European colonization, America's commercial agriculture (meaning food production beyond immediate family needs) was dominated by large-scale agriculture. This included the slave plantations of the South, huge Spanish haciendas in the Southwest, and the bonanza wheat and cattle farms of the West. Most of our commercial agricultural production was in the hands of wealthy individuals or foreign investors."

Meditation Moment: Dervishes


When school and mosque and minaret
get torn down, then dervishes can begin
their community. Not until faithfulness

turns to betrayal and betrayal into trust
can any human being become
part of the truth.

By Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks
From “Rumi, The Book of Love”