submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
As I stated in the initial installment of this series I find a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers and keep a list of them handy for illustrating and driving home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements. Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So here are some more of my favorites:
GOD WANTS SPIRITUAL FRUITS, NOT RELIGIOUS NUTS
Religious nuts are hard to crack. They’re so embedded in shells of beliefs, doctrines, rites, rituals, rules and relics that even the most effective nut crackers generally fail to open them, and even if the shell is cracked the nut inside will often crumble in the process. Obviously God (or what I prefer to call the creative process of life) finds it almost impossible to penetrate and work with this material.
Religious beliefs and behavior, even though socially acceptable and seemingly innocuous, are actually evidence of spiritual derangement, of disconnection with the creative process, and are threatening to the life of the individuals embedded in these structures and the life of the planet. An illusory world has been created on this basis. This world and the human condition that pervades it are comparable to an insane asylum, and religions provide the primary impulse that spawns and perpetuates this insanity.
The root of the insanity may be found in the idea that meaning and fulfillment in life come from something external, i.e. beliefs, rituals, holy books, saviors, saints, temples, sacred sites, etc. The truth is that meaning and fulfillment come from within, from the pure and inexhaustible fountain of life at the source of every person’s being. When this fountain is allowed to flow into an individual’s thinking, speaking and behavior the surrounding environment is watered and begins to participate in the flow. Delicious spiritual fruits result from this flow, fruits that are soft and pliable, unlike the hard nuts of religion that only serve to block the flow.
I’M LOST, BUT I’M MAKING RECORD TIME
This is pretty much the story of human beings on earth since their fall from grace. In the book of Job in the Old Testament, when the Lord asked Satan from whence he came, Satan said “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Human beings have been going to and fro in the earth and up and down in it for thousands of years and, especially in these days of advanced technology, making record time But except for a smattering of individuals who have discovered something of the truth of love and how life operates, the human race has been lost and has been making excellent time toward oblivion.
I have frequent dreams of being lost in a large city and struggling mightily to find my way back to some familiar landmark. The harder I try, the more lost I become. Panic sets in and I begin to make record time running or driving from street to street, around this corner and that corner, up this alley, through this backyard, across this field. It is exhausting and I finally collapse in a heap of frustration. Once again we have a metaphor for what is being experienced by the whole body of humanity.
Here is a closely related bumper sticker to the one we’re considering: DON’T FOLLOW ME, I’M LOST TOO. At least the person is honest enough to admit being lost. Some religious, political and educational leaders give the impression that they have found the answers or even the answer and have attracted many followers on this basis, when the fact is that they are just as lost as everyone else. Oh and by the way another bumper sticker that goes with this syndrome is WHERE ARE WE GOING? AND WHY AM I IN THIS HANDBASKET?
These games of lost and found can only be played by human beings who are enmeshed in the human drama and are looking for the answer in something external to themselves. It is this very involvement with externals that has created a world of illusion in which people perceive themselves as being lost. Disconnected from their own Inner Reality, directions and answers are sought in something from the environment, often some form of religious faith. Obviously what is required is reconnection with the Reality, the I AM core of every person’s being.
This God center never has been and never will be lost, so there is certainly no need to search for it. No need to search for meaning and fulfillment or for enlightenment; I am already filled full of everything I need for fulfillment; I am already enlightened, which I discover as I shine the light that I am. When I am coming from this place in creative self-expression I find my spiritual home, and my world transforms in record time.
I THINK, THEREFORE I’M DANGEROUS
This is unfortunately true, because the way 90% of human beings think is not really thinking at all; it is just reaction to factors in the environment. This reactive “thinking” produces all kinds of destructive effects. In fact it has produced all of the violence, corruption, disease and all the other forms of human suffering peculiar to the human condition on this planet. We live in a mind-made world, and the deplorable nature of this world is the result of the mind being used in the wrong way. From the moment of birth human beings are conditioned to “think” reactively, using analysis, deduction and so-called logic. The entire educational system is based on this. We are taught that the only way to achieve success in life is to analyze and manipulate external circumstances to so-called advantage.
It has been said that the human mind is like a parachute; to work it must be open. The question is, open to what? To external circumstances in an attempt to solve problems and arrange things in a way that seems to satisfy my wants and desires? No, whatever created the mind never intended it to be used in this reactive way. The mind works the way it should when it is open to what I refer to as Source or Spirit, to the Fountain of Life bubbling up from within. When the pure water from this Fountain flows over the waterwheel of the human mind, fresh and enlightened thoughts emerge to enrich the environment. But when the mind is used reactively, stagnant water from the cistern of the subconscious is lifted up to the waterwheel and the result is the human condition with all of its corruption and conflict.
In other words, the human mind is properly a servant rather than the master, an instrument of control rather than the control itself. The expression “I think, therefore I am” is attributed to the philosopher Descartes. This elevates the mind to a position it should not occupy. The truth is “I am, therefore I think,” i.e. Being first, then thinking. And when human beings come together utilizing this kind of creative thinking magic happens as the possibilities inherent in Source are allowed to manifest. In the spiritual community of Sunrise Ranch where I live creative thinking and magic thrives in the Creative Field Groups and Transformation Groups that meet regularly, quite a contrast to what comes out of the think tanks and study groups operative in human government and academia.
DON’T BLOW IT, GOOD PLANETS ARE HARD TO FIND
This bumper sticker allows me to sum up pretty much everything I’ve said in this series. The way human beings have behaved on this magnificent planet has unfortunately put it in great jeopardy. There is a very real possibility that this Earth project could be thrown on the cosmic scrap heap. In fact I’m rather amazed that the greater Universe has for so long tolerated the “den of iniquity” that human beings have created and sustained on the planet. I can only explain it to myself by referring to what has been called “the grace of God.” Whatever it is that created this project evidently still believes that we can finally get it together.
And the only way, as I see it, that we can get it together and avoid blowing this uniquely beautiful creative experiment is to fully embody the love that fueled and formed the basis of its creation. However, what the world needs now is not love, sweet love, but the truth of love. It is the interpretations of love by the reactive human mind that have brought the Earth to the brink of disaster. It is impossible for the reactive and self-serving human mind to know the truth of love. It has to get out of the way; indeed it has to dissolve. And the only way that can happen is when primal spirituality is recovered, i.e. when our innate, intuitive knowing of the truth of love and of Being is actually expressed in living. Otherwise it lies buried in the subconscious mind and the reactive mind is in control.
So here is the formula for saving the Earth: let us be the creator beings that we are by fully embodying the qualities of divine character in our living. It begins with the individual and works out from there to transform the Earth. The answer is not in religion; the answer is not in politics and government; the answer is not in science. The answer is in me and you and the spiritual body that emerges on the basis of our expression of the truth of love. Yes I know that astronomers have discovered some other earth-like planets in the galaxy, but frankly I can’t imagine how another planet could be more beautiful and offer more scope for creative expression than the one we have right here. So please let’s not blow this unmatched creative opportunity!
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-six years. He can be reached at email@example.com
submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
I am open to inspiration and insight from any source, and so when a catalog of bumper stickers arrived in the mail for me one day, I decided to open it instead of instinctively throwing it into the recycling bin. I was delightfully surprised by the treasury of wisdom that I found, and I now keep the catalog of these succinct gems on top of my desk so that I can quickly bring them up to illustrate and drive home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements.
Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So here are some of my favorites:
WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS HAVING A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE
Our essence is spiritual, not physical. We are here in physical form on earth to release and experience this spiritual essence. We are certainly not the products of evolution out of primeval slime. We as creator beings were here first and the rest of creation in effect devolved out of us. Yet human beings have believed and acted as though exactly the opposite were true—that they somehow evolved out of lower forms of life and are thereby relegated to a subhuman existence that must forever struggle to rise out of the human condition, perhaps only in some kind of heavenly afterlife.
No, it is right here on earth that we belong. This is the arena for action; this is why we incarnated—to bring heaven down here. Human religions have, in effect, turned the bumper sticker around: WE ARE PHYSICAL BEINGS TRYING TO HAVE A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. When this physical origin of human beings is accepted, the only recourse for attempting to experience something spiritual is for the human mind to develop concepts and beliefs of what it thinks spirituality might be like. So this is what it has done and this is what religions are—piles and piles of human concepts, fabrications, by-products of human imagination. Considering the deplorable world of illusion that has been created on this basis, isn’t it about time we got back to reality? WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS HAVING A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE!
WHEN YOU’RE OVER THE HILL, YOUR SPEED PICKS UP
It is commonly assumed that as you age, you slow down, physically, mentally and in every other way. But I’m discovering that those who are spiritually alive, who are aligned with the creative process of life, actually pick up speed in terms of mental and even physical dexterity, artistic ability and across-the-board creative capacity. I’m now in my seventy-second year, no doubt qualifying for over-the-hill status, and while there are a few physical tasks that I now find slightly challenging, the rest of my capacities are fully on line. And then some! Wisdom does indeed come with age, and with wisdom comes an acceleration of creative output.
The increase of speed that is possible to older individuals is also possible to older organizations, older communities and older movements, provided once again that they are spiritually aligned with the way things work. The spiritual community where I live (Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado) is now sixty-eight years old, probably one of the oldest intentional communities in the United States. The communal wisdom accumulated over these years has allowed for an expansion of our capacity to welcome and encompass people. We frequently host groups of around one hundred people for a week or ten days at a time, and last summer Sunrise was the setting for the Arise Festival, bringing several thousand people to our land. In these “senior years” our speed has definitely picked up!
GET INVOLVED…THE WORLD IS RUN BY THOSE WHO SHOW UP
Several years ago, being unemployed and having very little money, I applied for a job as a janitor and was hired. My initial assignment was just two nights a week cleaning the offices of a power company. Turnover among janitorial employees is high because many just don’t show up consistently. Because I consistently showed up I was promoted to three nights a week as part of a crew cleaning a large recreational facility, and then a few months later I was made supervisor of a six-person team cleaning an enormous computer manufacturing complex five nights a week. I don’t believe my success in this field was due to any particular cleaning prowess but rather to the realization by the owners of the janitorial company that they had a “golden employee,” a man who unfailingly showed up for every job, always ahead of time, and followed through until everything was done.
So many people in our world just don’t bother to consistently show up for the physical jobs they have to do, costing the economy billions of dollars. But far more costly is the failure to show up for the spiritual work we have to do. This is why we incarnated after all. In the spiritual community where I live there are frequent gatherings where concentrated spiritual work is done, work that generates a current of radiant blessing to be offered into the body of humanity. How important it is to show up for these times. Even if nothing is said, just a person’s presence brings so much power and influence in terms of providing an additional sounding board for the spiritual tone that is being sounded. Oh how the universe longs for people of quality who consistently show up to offer their highest and finest in every circumstance!
GOD, PROTECT ME FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS!
Those who purport to follow God can be some of the most ruthless and murderous people on the planet. To cite just one example, the Lord’s Resistance Army is a guerrilla group operating in South Sudan, the Congo and the Central African Republic. Its tactics include mutilation, torture, slavery, rape, the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers and massacres. The movement is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium. There are a large number of militant Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, including the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly noted for its brutal treatment of women and strict enforcement of Sharia law.
While the excesses of Islamic extremism, where many are ready to kill for their faith, are rare in the United States, extremism of a different kind thrives in many fundamentalist churches. Preachers, sincerely believing they are speaking the Word of God, may not threaten to kill non-believers in this life but they do threaten hellfire and damnation in the “next life” unless a particular salvation formula is accepted. And, really, any form of proselytizing, any effort, no matter how polite, to impose one’s beliefs on another is equivalent to violently invading the sanctity of their being.
Yes, God, please protect me from your followers! The question is, do they really know You? A follower, by definition, is separate from God and can only develop concepts and beliefs about God, and considering the collection of superstitions and fantasies evident in the world’s religions, these ideas concocted by the human mind are way off the mark. I don’t think God wants followers; God, the Creator, Universal Being—however God is defined—wants leaders, people who are willing to take responsibility for being God in action on earth, people who don’t see any separation between themselves and the Creator and therefore don’t fabricate ideas about God. The latter can be dangerous!
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, GROWTH IS OPTIONAL
It has been said that the only constant is change. This especially rings true at this point in the 21st century where massive changes are taking place in climate, politics, culture, the world economy, etc. If one is able to roll with these changes, easily adapting to them and even using them as springboards for growth and additional creative action, then all is well on the personal level and something positive is put into the collective consciousness of the body of humanity. But human beings are notorious for resisting change and seeking to preserve the status quo at all costs. For many the prospect of change seems terribly frightening and they will fight even to the death to prevent it.
One example that comes to mind is the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. The ban has been supported by the county’s intransigent Islamic clerical establishment. Clerics reportedly believe that lifting the ban and generally giving women more freedom would lead to increased premarital sex and adultery. Saudi security officials have said that “enforcing the ban is part of protecting the monarchy against sedition.” Saudi Arabia also forbids women from travelling abroad, opening a bank account or working without permission from a male relative. Even Saudi King Abdullah acknowledges that women will someday drive in the country, but for now he and other officials there have opted to resist change and the growth opportunity that accommodating change brings.
The classic musical that illustrates resistance to change is “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, the father of five daughters, tries to keep his family and Jewish religious traditions intact in the face of strong pressures to let go of these customs from his three older daughters. There is mounting pressure in these days on all religious and cultural traditions. The creative process of life simply will not be blocked anymore by the structures in human consciousness, no matter how old and how revered these structures are. To put it bluntly, human beings are increasingly being given the choice to either let go and grow or dig in and die.
Lest we end on a down note, here is an auspicious bumper sticker for all who are willing to let go and grow.
SOMETHING WONDERFUL IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Larry Pearlman
Peace is a process. It’s something that we’re going to create and develop and share over time. I think it’s dangerous to think that some magic wand is going to be waved over the heads of humanity and from that moment on there’s no longer going to be any conflict or war.
People sometimes ask me if I think that we’re ever going to get to the point where there will be complete peace and the cessation of all violence. You may be surprised at my answer, but I don’t really think that that is how it works. This world that we’re in, this world that we created in order to learn certain very important spiritual lessons, this is the world of duality. This is the world where we learn from our mistakes, where we learn from everything. One of the things that we learn from is the way that we relate to one another, both skillfully and unskillfully. This is all of the evolutionary trek, both individual and collective, that is bringing us to a spiritual maturation.
So maybe there comes a point where each individual makes that choice to such a degree and such a level that they no longer have a need to reincarnate, if you believe in that. Or we move on to the next schoolroom, the next classroom, where we have different lessons. The main thing that I’ve learned over all these years that I’ve been doing this work, over all the years and decades that I’ve been in spiritual practice, is that I don’t know anything. So these are my theories, just like we’ll all have our own theories.
I don’t really know what is meant to happen here. The only thing that I really do know is that I am meant to continue to choose peace in very dynamic ways in my own life, and to try and share that whenever I can. How this ends, what happens, I’m not attached to it, because I know that in the end we’re all going to see that we created this world and we can create a better world. And in doing so, peace may happen in exactly the way that you described. I hope it does—that would be wonderful. But I’m not attached to it, to tell you the truth. I’m more attached to the spiritual growth that’s there.
I think the thing that is happening is that we are beginning to focus much more on the ways that we are the same, rather than the ways that we are different. I mean, you brought up the situation in Ireland, and I think that’s probably a very good example, because clearly, whether you’re in northern Ireland or whether you’re in the Republic of Ireland, they’re all Irish. And whether they’re Catholic or Protestant, in the end, does not supersede the fact that they’re really the same.
The one thing that I’ve learned as I’ve traveled around the world, often to these war zones, is that we’re not really all that different from one another. If we could begin focusing on the ways that we are the same, and build from there, as opposed to the way we’ve been doing it, which is to begin where we are different, beginning where we are the same fosters a new attitude that ultimately does lead to peace. Now, of course, the Internet has been fantastic at that. I mean, we have broken down boundaries and walls in ways that we never would have thought possible twenty years ago, mainly just through connecting through the Internet, email, Facebook, whatever. And this is an exciting time to live in—there’s no way around that. I mean, we have opportunities here today that are just remarkable.
I remember the first time I was invited to Iraq, back in 1998. I was invited there by Saddam Hussein himself to perform the Peace Concert there in Baghdad. I was pretty nervous because of course I thought, “These people are so different from me—what’s going to happen? Am I going to be safe?” and all of those questions that one would ask. Without going into too much detail, it was one of the best experiences of my life. After I did this major concert there in Baghdad, they had a party for me. It was one of the most fun parties I’ve ever been to, and all we did all night long, really, was sit around singing Simon & Garfunkel songs! And this was in Baghdad. So we really were a lot more similar than I thought that we were.
It also makes me think of how I got into this work in the first place. You may remember that twenty-five years ago this year, there was a gathering that took place in Assisi, Italy, the home of St. Francis, where for the first time in history, the leaders of the twelve major religions of the world came together, not to have discussions, but just to pray. Each one brought a peace prayer from their tradition, and there was an amazing, beautiful gathering where each one of them prayed that prayer. Those are the prayers that I ultimately arranged to music, which is another story.
That was the beginning of something very important, especially in terms of our spiritual history and the way that we relate to one another in religion. Even though obviously all the different religions are very different, they all have a common denominator, and that is that desire for peace. Everyone has a peace prayer.
We see this happening in so many ways. Allowing these boundaries, between individuals, cultures, and nations, to continue to dissolve, is what ultimately is going to lead to peace.
James Twyman is an internationally renowned, best-selling author, filmmaker and musician who has a reputation for traveling to some of the world’s greatest areas of conflict, sharing his message of peace.
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
“Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.” So wrote Bill Vaughan in Reader’s Digest. A lot of people have a problem with money, and the primary problem seems to be not having enough of it. High unemployment and a recession-prone economy have intensified the quest for money, and the more desperate among us are resorting to lotteries and games of chance, highly speculative business ventures, get-rich-quick schemes and even crime in order to somehow rake in some bucks. I understand that the U.S. Mint once mistakenly printed on a run of its gold coins: “In Gold We Trust.” This inscription might as well be put on all coins and currency, for it accurately represents the human obsession with money.
Yet it is universally acknowledged that money has no intrinsic value, that it is merely paper and serves only as a medium of exchange. Of what is money the medium? What does it represent? Ultimately and ideally money represents life itself. Whatever increases or facilitates the flow of life on earth has value or, as I like to think of it, substance. An ear of corn grown by a farmer obviously has substance; it is substance. Because this substance has the capacity to sustain life when it is consumed by human beings or livestock, it has value. The farmer who, along with nature, assists in the generation of this substance is entitled to compensation in money commensurate with the value of the substance.
This is a very simple example having to do with a tangible commodity. The corn can be seen and touched. But a great deal of substance generation is intangible. The most refined substance generation occurs at the spiritual level. Worship and meditation, to the degree that these are free of religious beliefs and concepts, generate a purity of spiritual substance that I refer to as “pneumaplasm.”
In actual fact all substance originates at this level, and substance generated at the physical and mental levels is just a denser form of pneumaplasm. This spirit-substance connects spirit with form, essence with existence, heaven with earth, God with creation. It is the mechanism by which all life on the planet—indeed in the whole universe—is sustained and is the repository of all value.
Now back to money. In an ideal state, money, the medium by which human beings collectively acknowledge and measure value, would flow in the direction of pneumaplasm. In other words, it would flow to those who, by virtue of the purity of their hearts and beauty of their expression, were generating the most refined spiritual substance in their living. But in their fallen state of consciousness, human beings have grossly interfered with this natural flow. Their primary concern is to accumulate the medium rather than generate the substance that the medium represents. Addicted to the symbol, they have forsaken the reality. The result is an unspeakable mess on earth.
Pneumaplasm is sacred and money, when it is allowed to flow in accordance with pneumaplasmic generation, is also sacred. But when human beings, acting out of ignorance and greed, attempt to manipulate this flow to suit their own purposes, the whole process is profaned and polluted. All money is tainted as a result, and some of this filthy residue inevitably attaches to those who use it.
The way to begin recovering true values, in a world where values are totally twisted, is to put the quest for money completely aside in favor of generating pneumaplasm. By devoting the whole of our energies to the expression of the highest qualities of character by living with as much integrity and nobility as is possible in this mixed-up state, we can begin to restore a natural flow. I have found that when true generation is the focus in living rather than making money, enough money will be provided to meet daily needs. And the money that does flow in on this basis begins to lose its taint. In other words, purity of motive in generating spiritual substance engenders a purification process that begins to clean up money and everything else in the environment. Here is the only legitimate form of “money laundering.”
So pneumaplasm, the “golden substance of being,” is the true coin of the realm, and as long as that is consistently generated in living, everything else, including money and all other forms of material sustenance, will take care of itself. Within the envelope of this substance there is no anxiety whatsoever about not having enough. Even in material circumstances that are very modest, the experience is one of abundance.
In ancient days, there was a man named Job who exemplified this natural flow. He was considered “the greatest of all the men of the east,” with enormous herds of sheep, camels and oxen and all manner of other property. It is also said that Job was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.” In other words, his generation of spiritual substance was pure and plentiful, and because the state of consciousness at that time was relatively clear, his right generation brought vast wealth. But the time came when it was all taken away, and he was smitten with sores and boils all over his body. Though his wife advised him to “curse God and die,” Job continued to put first things first, upholding his integrity and giving thanks for life. His health and wealth were restored, the latter not only restored, but doubled.
Money/wealth ultimately flows toward pneumaplasm, even though in the short term human beings have disrupted this natural flow, believing money to be a shortcut to happiness and fulfillment. Although there are more people making more money on earth than ever before, human beings as a whole feel more impoverished than ever. Why? Simply because they have neglected the generation of pneumaplasm, without which money is worthless. If human beings persist in this fixation on a symbol at the expense of the reality, they will find their lives mightily disrupted as the right flow is restored as it inevitably must be in accordance with natural law.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years and can be reached at email@example.com.
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
While we frequently hear of global summits and conferences on such issues as climate change, the world economy and AIDS, it isn’t often that news comes to us of gatherings that address what is perhaps the key causative factor underlying virtually all of the world’s problems, namely overpopulation. Or do we seriously believe that an earth without human beings could environmentally and economically threaten itself? No, there is really only one reason why ecological catastrophe looms: too many Homo sapiens vying for a slice of the planetary pie. Until this fundamental issue is addressed, the plethora of programs to patch up the planet will all be for naught.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, world population reached seven billion on October 31, 2011. That this milestone fell on Halloween perhaps indicates the devilish nature of the problem! The online encyclopedia Wikipedia estimates births per year worldwide at 134 million and deaths at 56 million. At this rate world population is expected to grow to as much as 10.5 billion by 2050. This is far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet, especially considering that 90% of the growth will occur in underdeveloped countries. And since one person in the U.S. annually uses 50 times the energy of one Bengali, population growth in the industrial nations, though slower, will put enormous stress on world resources. Despite these sobering facts, programs to limit population growth often have low priority or engender outright opposition from political conservatives, religious organizations and prolife groups. Wikipedia notes that “the use of abortion in some population control strategies has caused controversy, with organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church explicitly opposing any intervention in the human reproductive process.”
Why? Why this stubborn refusal to apply discipline in this area? Obviously we are dealing with mindsets embedded in the deepest levels of human consciousness. In the opening chapter of the Bible, God reportedly commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply,” and perhaps the fervor to reproduce represents one way human beings try to compensate for their failure to observe the rest of God’s (life’s) commandments. If people are not secure and fulfilled in the expression of their true nature as representatives of the Creator on earth, then having children may be a way of compensating for this lack of meaning and purpose.
Do we suppose that today God (or whatever this term represents to you) is still urging us along the path of accelerated procreation? I very much doubt it. The message I’m getting in the stillness of meditation is something like this: “All right, already! Enough is enough! With all due respect, may I suggest that the totality of life in the universe is in no way diminished by the failure of human beings to reproduce? Life can manifest in an infinite number of ways, and right now it would be better for the earth and for the cosmos as a whole if it manifested in ways other than the multiplication of human forms.”
Religionists down through the ages have labored under the illusion that the earth is a “soul factory”—i.e. that it’s primary purpose is to mass produce souls (human beings) for the kingdom of heaven, where they have a chance to go after death. I suspect this notion is a baseline belief of the prolife movement—people who insist that life is precious. Indeed it is, but the supreme value of life is degraded when it is forced beyond the saturation point into human forms. The universe is less interested in quantity—the gross production of human forms—than in quality—the creative output of the earth system. The point has now been reached where quality will be better served by fewer births rather than more births. For those whose identity is in the individual human form such an idea may be anathema. But for those who have expanded their vision to embrace the larger purposes of the celestial order, the need to limit human forms is easily accepted.
So the “soul factory” delusion is one element of human conditioning that must dissolve if we are to move from indiscriminate breeding to wise life management. Another is the belief that my significance and sense of fulfillment are shortchanged if I do not have children. This belief is deeply rooted in cultural traditions throughout the world, particularly in developing nations where population growth has been so explosive. Again, it is a matter of basic personal identity. If identity is at the level of human flesh, obviously the more of it one can produce, the more seeming significance one has. But if identity has risen to the level of Spirit, to the nature and purposes of Being, then it is seen that meaning and significance come from within and in no way depend on external accretion.
Something similar could be said about sexual activity and the supposed need to be loved by, and have sex with, another human being. Again, if identity is at the level of the human form with its drives and impulses, fears and insecurities, sexual intimacy will seem crucial to personal well-being and significance. But if identity is with the essence of Being that informs the form, passionate love for that provides total fulfillment. This certainly doesn’t rule out relationships, even of a sexual nature. It just puts first things first. Sex becomes a creative option rather than an irresistible urge.
Another deep vein of conditioning concerns the notion that human forms must be saved and preserved at all costs. We find medical doctors making heroic efforts to keep brain-dead babies, hopelessly mutilated accident victims and vegetating elderly alive at some level. Some scientists drive themselves relentlessly to find cures for AIDS and Alzheimer’s or to discover the miracle drug that will prevent aging. Why? What if they were 100% successful at keeping people alive indefinitely? Would the earth be better off with all these forms on it? I think it would be overrun in short order and probably have to self-destruct. Though we may be reluctant to admit it, it is actually a blessing that human forms pass away. Given the present state on earth, aging, disease and natural disasters are nature’s defense against the human plague. In this sense we can actually give thanks for them. Sure it would be nice if the earth had a way of clearing itself of clutter without causing so much pain and suffering to human beings. But as long as they insist on maintaining impurities in themselves and show little interest in voluntarily limiting their numbers, these uncomfortable options are the only ones nature has available.
Clearly what is called for is spiritual education on a massive scale, so that people of all countries and cultural traditions begin to glimpse their inner worth and the creative role of the earth within the universal whole. Changes in consciousness consequent upon individual spiritual awakening should prepare the way for lifestyle changes that will gradually rid the earth system of its nemesis: the resource-eating human breeding machine.
What this comes down to for each individual is this: Am I willing to relinquish embedded religious and cultural beliefs about children, birth, death, heaven and hell? Am I willing to acknowledge that life is too precious to be imprisoned in vegetating and unwanted human flesh? Am I willing to let irreversibly deformed, depraved and decaying human forms mercifully return to their maker, even if it means my own? Am I willing to alter my own sexual habits for the sake of planetary stabilization and healing? Abstinence (yes abstinence!) may be indicated. The world’s population could be brought into balance if human beings would stop reproducing for just one generation! But how many would be willing to make such a sacrifice for the benefit of the whole? Yes, these are seemingly hard choices, but they are actually very easy when identity rises above personal wants and desires to embrace cosmic design and purpose.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We just completed the 2nd annual Creative Field Conference at Sunrise Ranch, and it was just fantastic! The love and energy brought by all of the keynote speakers to their presentations, their workshops and the interaction with the attendees was absolutely moving and created a feeling of connectedness not typically found in a conference that involves science. It felt like everyone really was committed to each others greatest good and contributions.
Here are some quotes from attendees and guests:
• Sunrise – you rock!!! I felt so welcomed & so at home – it is difficult to leave.
• The combination of presentations and workshops that brought together Science and Spirituality made me feel so encouraged that our world can truly be unified creating oneness on earth!
• The Sunrise staff is comprised of prophets, sages and beautiful beings in their own right!
• Every aspect listed was beautifully orchestrated and delivered. The love and care was evident in abundance.
• This place is heaven and the people living here are heart-centered servers, friendly, warm & welcoming. The food was incredible in flavor, presentation & nutrition.
Our presenters were Claude Swanson, Bob Whitehouse, Sarah McLean, Steven Sadleir and David Karchere… with David Darling and Friends performing a concert on Saturday night! The interactivity and collaboration between the speakers was exceptional, and we had an overwhelming response of growth and expansion in areas of Science proving unseen energy, Meditation facilitating inner peace, and Music creating a magical substance that pulled everyone together.
The videos for the Keynotes and Sessions are being edited and will be available in the near future!
We are already looking to next year’s conference titled: Creative Field Conference: Bridging Science and Spirituality – What’s Love got to do with it?!
We’re looking forward to being with you there!
With Love and Kindness,
* * See some of our conference photos near the end of this newsletter! * *
How to visit or get involved at Sunrise Ranch:
Drop in and visit! Tour our garden, walk the labyrinth, sit by the pond, watch the animals, have a meal & enjoy the scenery. Please call and let us know you are coming: Toll free: (877) 786-0078 or Direct: (970) 679-4200
Attend a Sunrise Ranch community event, class or retreat:
- Concerts in our beautiful Dome
- Dances of Universal Peace A form of circle dances designed to bring the experience of prayer from many world traditions into the body, voice, heart and spirit. Offered first Tuesday of each month.
- Healers’ Jamboree – A gathering of healers for a sharing circle.
- Transformational Evenings – We have a rotating schedule of open Wednesday evening enlightening events.
- Creative Art Classes – A variety of classes; journaling, plein air art, yoga and more.
- Sunday Services Held every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in the Dome Chapel at Sunrise Ranch.
Sign up for a retreat or workshop held at Sunrise Ranch – many gifted teachers, presenters, and facilitators hold their events at Sunrise Ranch, including programs in Personal Growth, Spiritual Life, Healing and Wellness, Sustainability, and Creative Arts!
Residential programs: We offer opportunities to participate in residential programs, including Full Self Emergence, Culinary Arts and Permaculture Work/Study, for periods ranging from a week to eighteen months.
Sunrise Ranch – Farm News
Thanks to the noble sacrifices of 4 brave steers in late August, we received the season’s first batch of Sunrise grassfed beef on Monday September 17th, and our next group of 10 steers went in to Steving Meats on September 28th (with 3 more harvests after that), so we will be fully stocked with delicious grassfed beef all winter, so if you’re in the area give us a call or look for us at the Fort Collins Winter Market starting November 10th! (click here for information on ordering Sunrise Ranch grassfed beef)
The farm has also been getting “off the farm” (so to speak), continuing our presence at Peace in the Park, the latest Be Local Northern Colorado evening social, the 13th annual Fort Collins Sustainable Living Fair, and most recently Earthdance Boulder, where we have been signing up new people for the E-newsletter, spreading the word about our beef sales, internship programs, and even Camp Sunrise for the kids! Patrick was unquestionably the hit of the day, wowing passersby with his juggling, handstands, and magic tricks.
Not content to leave the activity at a dull roar, we have also been working on expanding the farm’s Internet presence, and have started a Twitter account (@FarmSunrise), so if you’re on Twitter give us a follow (we’ll follow you back) and if you aren’t on Twitter, now’s the time to start!
On September 25th we were surprised and thrilled to find we had a new addition to our cattle herd! First-time mama Oreo gave birth to a beautiful red and white female calf, officially inaugurating our cow/calf operation and giving us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the process before the calves start coming in hot and heavy. Mom and babe are doing fine, having been separated from the herd and given the choicest quarters on the farm. As we celebrate this new arrival and look back on another season past, we can’t help but feel immensely grateful and honored at the opportunity to steward the Earth and all her children with love and care, and thrilled at all the potential for next season and beyond!
Fine Arts Program at Sunrise Ranch
The Fine Arts Program that frees the spirit and lifts the soul is alive and well at Sunrise Ranch.“Expanding Vision Through Creative Expression” will teach beginners and experts alike the process and techniques for creating expressive works of art.
With a newly renovated building created as an art studio for this program, Sunrise Ranch has decreed “Studio A” as a home for which “the arts” can be birthed in a sacred space.
Classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays, from 7-9:30 p.m. These classes will be led by Bob Ewing, Sunrise Artist-in-Residence, as well as local professional artist Dave Holman.
The maximum number of students that Studio A can hold is 12, so reserve your spot as soon as possible to guarantee participation. This series of classes and instructional sessions will be diverse and artistically compelling, while being held in the midst of the inspiration and beauty that is Sunrise Ranch. Projection of class topics could include drawing, watercolor, acrylic and oil painting, art history (history, culture, vision and spirit), theory, composition, design, color, dynamic symmetry and poetic process. Instructional sessions could expand to include sculpture, ceramics, photography, jewelry-making and other crafts.
ART CLASSES IN STUDIO A— Schedule for October and November, 2012
MONDAY EVENING DRAWING CLASSES (7-9:30 PM) INSTRUCTOR: DAVE HOLMAN (predominantly Pastels) COST: $20 PER PERSON / PLUS $10 IF SUNRISE PROVIDES MATERIALS Dates: Oct 1: Landscape – Oct 8: Still Life – Oct 15: Portrait Oct 22: Landscape – Nov 5: Still Life – Nov 12: NO CLASS – Nov 19: Portrait – Nov 26: Landscape
THURSDAY EVENING PAINTING CLASSES (7-9:30 PM) INSTRUCTOR: BOB EWING (Acrylic & Watercolor) COST: $20 PER PERSON / PLUS $10 IF SUNRISE PROVIDES MATERIALS Dates: Oct 4: Autumn Landscape (Acrylic) – Oct 11: Mountain Landscape (Watercolor) – Oct 18: Barns & Rustic Buildings (Watercolor) – Oct 25: Wildlife (Acrylic) – Nov 1: Seascape (Acrylic) – Nov 8: Water Fowl (Watercolor) – Nov 15: Sunset Over Water (Acrylic) – Nov 22: NO CLASS – Nov 29: Winter Scene (Watercolor)
SATURDAY PLEIN AIRE PAINTING CLASSES (outdoors in Eden Valley; if inclement weather, indoors) (9-12 noon & 1-3 pm) INSTRUCTORS: DAVE HOLMAN & BOB EWING COST: $35, plus $10 for materials if needed / lunch available for $10 Dates: Oct 6: Oil Painting (Dave Holman) – Oct 13: Acrylic Painting (Bob Ewing) – Oct 20: Oil Painting (Dave Holman) – Oct 27: Oil Painting (Dave Holman) – Nov 3: Oil Painting (Dave Holman) – Nov 17: Oil Painting (Dave Holman) – Nov 24: NO CLASS
For further information and if you have questions, please contact:
Bob Ewing (970) 443-4402 or Dave Holman (970) 391-0982. You can also e-mail Bob Ewing at email@example.com
*New* Pulse of Spirit Facebook Page – check it out and “Like” it…
- Click the image to go to the page!
Sunrise Ranch is a “Birth Day Hub” of The Shift Network
Please join us for our celebration: 2013 Birth of the New Era
December 21st and 22nd, 2012 click HERE for the various participation options)
December 21st we’ll be having Dinner, Kirtan and Concert, Ceremony, Overnight Dance, Drum and Meditation and Oneness Message at Midnight to the Globe.
December 22nd will include Breakfast, Solstice Flow Yoga/Kirtan with Scott and Shanti Medina, Lunch, and all day live stream global birthday message from the Shift Network, and some *surprise* guests.
The Shift Network empowers a global movement of people who are creating an evolutionary shift of consciousness that in turn leads to a more enlightened society, one built on principles of peace, sustainability, health, and prosperity.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FLIER
Recent Highlights at Sunrise Ranch
CFC Celebration Ceremony Gathering at Exeter Pond – Sunrise Ranch
Denye Robbins shows us the rainbow and fall colors
David Darling, Debbie Danbrook & Lil Sum’n Sum’n at the CFC Concert
Flight of the wild turkey The wild turkeys at Sunrise Ranch
The Sunrise Ranch booth at the Sustainable Living Fair
A Sunrise Ranch Perspective:
What Does “Living in Community” Mean?
by Larry Pearlman
I live at Sunrise Ranch, an intentional community in Loveland, Colorado. So, what does it mean to “live in community”? Well, one could look at that in different ways. One way could be to say that it means sharing facilities and resources, eating meals together, dividing the labor for operating the community, and having the same address.
All of that is accurate and it simply defines a bit of what goes on at the surface of a community. So let’s go beyond that. The deeper part of living in community is about caring, loving, and sharing experiences. It’s about spending an hour in the garden, doing pipe change on occasion, examining the water plant, and visiting the chickens even though none of that has anything to do with your “job”.
It’s Diana tending Dawn’s flower beds while Dawn is hurt, Soma creating a vision quest experience for permaculture interns, the farm team preparing a meal for the whole community, and Leanna baking a pie for the maintenance crew. It’s Shareen and Nina taking meals and mail down to Mary, Larry helping George remember meetings he likes to go to, Jerry watering lawns that aren’t “his”, and Bob watching Shemmesh so Oren and Brianna can have a night out.
True community is about getting out of our houses and routines to get to know our neighbors a little better. Yes, it is important for everyone to get together for a day of deep sharing and visioning at scheduled times. Yet, it is also about meeting one-on-one or in small groups during the week for a devotion, coffee, a poker game, chanting, or taking a hike up Green Ridge.
Just like anywhere else, we all have full lives with our work and personal chores and families. True community goes beyond those things. True community is not defined by geography or an address. The fact is that people in rural settings and cities, towns and villages have the same opportunity to “live in Community” as we do here at Sunrise Ranch.
I have friends in Manhattan that have as close a community as other friends have in a small village in Ghana. Each person in either of those situations chooses whether they will “live in community” or live an isolated life. That same choice applies to every person on Sunrise Ranch or any other intentional community. Where I live doesn’t determine whether I am living in community. I determine that by how I choose to interact with those who live in my vicinity. What do you choose to do?
Larry Pearlman is a personification of the evolution in consciousness that recognizes that spirituality and the material world are not mutually exclusive.
While working 32 years in corporate America as an award-winning salesman, manager, and Director of Sales Training, Larry also carried on training and public speaking through his own company, Creative Expressions Unlimited and offered spiritual perspective in study courses based on the books, “On Eagles Wings”, “Being Where You Are”, and “Beyond Belief”.
In addition, he has taught courses in “The Art of Creative Living” and serves as a faculty member for “The Opening” – an 8 day experiential class in discovering your full potential. Larry was one of the founding members of the Renaissance Business Associates chapter in Phoenix, Arizona and hosted a radio show, “Opportunities”, in Phoenix emphasizing participation in the business world from a higher state of consciousness.
He recently returned from 27 months serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana and currently resides at Sunrise Ranch, an intentional, spiritual community in Loveland, Colorado.
Welcome! Our Newcomers to Sunrise Ranch:
Left: Kristen Hoyer and Derik Lane with their bunnies Shula and Sweetie
Right: Ed Conley came to live at Sunrise Ranch just in time to video the Creative Field Conference!
Creative Field Conference at Sunrise Ranch
held September 12 – 16, 2012
Creative Field Conference Committee from left: Susan Short, Joe Kittel, Maryann Brown, Andrea Isaacs, Rachel Morrison, Denye Robbins, Gary Goodhue (not pictured: Robby Robbins)
A Beautiful Evening Kirtan
Andrea Isaacs at the Creative Field Conference
Click thumbnails above to watch VIDEOS: LEFT -Kirtan RIGHT- David Churchill on piano
David Karchere Harvest Bounty in the Cafeteria
Keynote in the Sunrise Ranch Dome Denye Robbins at the podium
Dr. Claude Swanson leads Bioenergetics Workshop Cool Shoes Acapella Group
Steven Sadleir Sarah McLean
Entrance to Pavillion at Sunrise Ranch Dr. Bob Whitehouse
Left Photo: Maryann Brown, Dr. Claude Swanson, Robby Robbins & Dr. Bob Whitehouse Right Photo: Aeron Goldheart w/Tesla Energy Lights
Upcoming Events at Sunrise Ranch
Click on the flyer to register for this event!
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
A year or two into my job as an elementary school custodian I was told by my supervisor that I was being raised to a higher pay grade, but also that I would be expected to improve my performance and work even harder. While I was delighted at the prospect of more compensation, the announcement left me somewhat confused, for I was already working at peak performance, giving the job everything I had. This is the only way I know how to work: giving everything I do my very highest and finest.
My supervisor evidently made the assumption that I operate in the same way that probably the majority of people in society operate: performance is tied to rewards or incentives, the harder you work the greater your reward in terms of money or some other value. I do believe the school in which I was working had a “pay for performance” system, apparently predicated on the assumption that teachers would flounder in mediocrity until the lure of more money was dangled before them. Isn’t all of this simply a concession to what has come to be accepted as “human nature”—where human consciousness has been conditioned to give and to create only when that action can be connected to some external reward?
Many school systems, businesses and governmental agencies have adopted the pay for performance model to provide the incentives that are thought essential to motivate employees to really deliver the goods. Notice that “pay” comes first in this equation. Doesn’t this reverse the natural sequence of things—first performance, then pay? And rather than an enticement or even an earned reward, why not see pay as simply the by-product of prior production and a convenient means of allowing additional production to occur? Surely it is the generation of value in the moment, the creative release of life for its own sake, not the lure of a future reward, which rightly consumes our attention and motivates our action.
In a talk at a business conference the owner of a large cattle ranch in British Columbia put it this way: “At the base of our motivation must be a recognition that the reasons for being in business—or for that matter having jobs—are not first to do with making money but with being generative people, of being in position to interact in ways that allow qualities of stability and liveliness to find expression in our immediate practical circumstances.” His words echo something Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “The only reward of virtue is virtue.” Work carries its own reward, the pure satisfaction of doing it.
When work is done primarily for a monetary or other reward an unnatural element of stress is injected into the employment exercise. I once worked as a telemarketer in a phone promotion offered through a local radio station. At one point the ten of us making calls were told that the first person to get four sales within an hour would receive a substantial bonus. Did I immediately straighten up and try harder? No, since I was already moving at top speed consistent with quality. But I felt the unnatural element of stress and competition the announcement brought into the room. In order to make as many calls as possible those around me began to compromise the care they took with each call. Instead of having fun with each phone conversation, sale or no sale, everything was geared toward squeezing a “yes” out of the person called.
Broadening this out to the larger picture, the U.S. has what might be described as a “demand economy” rather than a “command economy” such as was the case with the former Soviet Union and some countries such as North Korea and Cuba that are still trying to make communism work. The law of supply and demand originally expounded by Adam Smith looks great on paper; as a theoretical model it even has a certain beauty. But in actual practice, this impersonal market mechanism, based on economic incentives that is supposed to conduce to the good of all, is subject to manipulation by human beings preoccupied with their personal wants and desires. The bottom-line demand is, “Make me comfortable and happy.”
The ultimate results of this thick vein of selfishness that has inserted itself into the core of human nature are the very maladies that dog the U.S. economy today: inflation, unemployment, persisting pockets of poverty and astronomical levels of government, corporate and consumer debt. And so the world still awaits what would be truly remarkable: a functioning society whose citizens, without coercion, consistently subordinate their personal wants and desires to the good of the whole, a society where the benefit offered to others and the earth itself is incentive enough for responsible and productive action.
Poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling set forth this vision in “L’Envoi”:
“And no one shall work for money,
and no one shall work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working,
and each in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It,
for the God of things as They Are!”
There is a longing or natural inclination built into the very core of every human being to offer something of value in the living of life, a compulsion to express integrity and the other qualities of true character, a quest for creativity and excellence. But this innate impulse gets covered over if not totally smothered by the conditioning that comes from living in a world where false values springing from greed and self-centered ambition tend to dominate.
Economic incentives, competitive enticements of all sorts. Yes, given the present state of human consciousness I suppose these contrivances may be useful in mobilizing the energies of human beings to ensure that at least something gets done. But if we will allow this spurious conditioning to dissolve so that our inherent creative impulse and passion for excellence can surface in life expression, we will find all such artificial devices unnecessary, not only unnecessary but dehumanizing. Greed and indolence are not the operative principles of the universal order, and as the latter nudges us toward maturity and global consciousness in these opening years of a new millennium, we would do well to embrace its wisdom.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Magnificent blue and silver orb
Coursing through space
Not aimlessly, but on a mission
Guided by cosmic design and purpose
Each subtle movement of the dance
A perfect response to tones of universe (more…)
Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
Is the American economy still in recession? Or pulling out? Or is it entering the second phase of a “double-dip” recession? These questions and the overriding issue of how to get out of recession are debated endlessly by economists and politicians and reams of statistics can be marshaled to support each point of view. Despite all the debate there is agreement on one thing: recessions are evil, they bring great harm to our country and its people and need to be battled with all of the fiscal and monetary weapons at our disposal. As the day of reckoning (Election Day, 2012) approaches, the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans are locked in mortal combat over their differing strategies for defeating this dreaded enemy.
But guess what? All the weeping and gnashing of teeth is unnecessary. At the risk of outraging economists everywhere may I venture the view that recessions are actually just fine? Only our hostile reaction renders them painful and destructive. The business cycle, just like all of nature’s circadian rhythms and life cycles, is a pulsating cycle; it has dips and curves, expansions and contractions. Though the long-term movement of the cycle is upward (unless human resistance becomes too great), it is not a straight line upward. Rather it is more akin to a spiraling process, a twisting movement with highs and lows, ebbs and flows.
As with virtually every other area of living human beings seek to defy this natural cycle. They want to eliminate the pulsations, specifically the lows, in order to achieve a constant high. They want to avoid the natural contractive phase and experience perpetual expansion. They want to forego winter in favor of eternal summer. In economic terms this means hefty annual increases in GDP (gross domestic product), high employment and rising exports, capital investment and per capita income. Any dip in these indexes raises recession fears and, if the dip persists, provokes cries of “stimulate, stimulate!” And the government activates such stimulative mechanisms as expanding the money supply, lowering interest rates, increasing public works spending, reducing taxes, etc. In extreme cases nations may even resort to currency devaluation or war to somehow prime the pump and regain the high.
In the current U.S. recession the Federal Reserve has pumped billions into the money supply and lowered the discount and federal funds rates to induce banks to lower their prime interest rates. Congress has voted to extend the period of eligibility for unemployment benefits and enacted a payroll tax cut to put more money in take-home paychecks. All of this so people will consume, consume, consume, thus activating the sluggish economy and ending the recession.
But tax cuts simply reduce federal revenue, aggravating a budget deficit estimated to reach somewhere around $1.3 trillion in the current fiscal year. And what if consumers are just plain tired of spending? What if they’re already up to their necks in dishwashers, I-phones, personal computers and sports utility vehicles? What if they would rather use money from a tax cut to pay off old bills? But no, “Spend now!” is the word. Growth at all costs! Expand or die! And so even though the economic cycle desperately wants to relax after the torrid pace of past spending, we won’t let it. And if rest is permanently denied, the result is inevitably the economic equivalent of a heart attack or nervous breakdown.
Recession as a normal phase of the business cycle wrings inflation, sometimes called “economic cancer,” out of the economy and provides opportunity for the restoration of appropriate fiscal discipline and restraint. Stimulus thwarts this natural correction. Wouldn’t it be wiser to forego stimulus and other forms of manipulation, readily welcome corrections when they are needed and let the business cycle expand and contract at its own natural pace? If there was a willingness to put greed, fear and, most importantly, economic theories on the shelf, restoring the economic cycle to natural market forces, I do believe the contractive phase would be no more difficult to endure than a normal winter.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy winter. There is something special, even delightful, about it. In winter, the rest cycle of the year, contemplation rather than action is emphasized. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed and prepare for the year to come, a time to monitor and consolidate material, mental and spiritual resources, a time for stillness so that energies at the deepest levels of being may be renewed. If there is anything that isn’t appropriate during this time, it is stimulus.
What economists call recession is economic winter. It is just as normal to the business cycle as winter is to the cycle of the seasons. Nature couldn’t function properly without the rest/contractive phase of winter and neither can the overall pattern of production/consumption we call the economy. So why on earth would we fight it? Do we strive mightily to stop winter from coming? Most of us are sensible enough to accommodate it without undue resistance, and the most discerning among us actually embrace winter for the unique opportunities and beauty it brings.
Economic winter presents similar opportunities. It is time to draw back from frenetic activity and prepare body, mind and spirit for the coming pulsation of expansion. Instead of a struggle to maintain or even increase production and income, recession is properly a time to conserve and utilize resources accumulated during the expansive phase, just as in winter we eat stored and canned garden vegetables. It is a time to assess and consolidate resources, tie up loose ends, eliminate excess baggage and pay off old debts. Most of all it is a time to reflect on the central values of living itself, as opposed to earning a living. Obviously, injecting stimulus at this time in an effort to force more production, spending and consumption is totally contrary to the movement of the business cycle and life itself.
Yes, I am aware that what is being suggested here runs contrary to sacred economic principle and the core values of Western materialism. Good. Failure to examine and at least modify the more-is-better, growth-or-bust assumptions that inform humanity’s economic decisions may doom the economy and the planet as a whole. Job stress, cigarettes, cocaine, media hype, academic pressure, sales gimmicks, expressways, ultraviolet and nuclear radiation, growth hormones, food additives, credit default swaps…the list of stimulants is long and everywhere we are witnessing the destructive effects of unrelenting and unmitigated stimulation.
Relax. Rest. Night follows day and winter follows summer for this purpose. And the contractive phase of the economic cycle follows the phase of activity. Have we so distorted the pursuit of happiness that these fundamental rhythms are no longer honored? In perpetually grasping for more will we end up with nothing? Surely the true worth of a nation cannot be measured by consumption curves and growth statistics, nor an individual by per capita income/consumption graphs and cars in the driveway. Relax. Rest. It is winter—time for home, hearth and a long winter’s nap.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years.
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Submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka
As if the year 2012 wasn’t already slated to be a milestone year in terms of economic turbulence, protest movements, climate change, storms on the sun, the end of the Mayan calendar and the potential for massive change affecting virtually every sphere of human activity, there is also an election for President of the U.S. and four-hundred sixty-eight members of Congress.
Democracy may be the best form of government that the human mind can come up with. But with its contentious elections and parliamentary machinations it simply “raises” conflict from the physical to the mental level, and the current polarization in the U.S. Congress, along with “attack politics” evident in the current Republican primary contest to nominate a candidate for President, simply illustrate how vicious this mental conflict can become. Indeed, in some legislative bodies, such as South Korea, delegates occasionally do resort to actual physical combat!
The poisonous atmosphere in the Republican presidential debates has some conservatives worried that the surviving candidate will be so tainted that the Democratic incumbent, no matter his alleged flaws, will look good by comparison. While U.S. politicians traditionally suffer from low public approval ratings, recent antics have plunged this rate into the single digits!
Notwithstanding all of this, I don’t think it is appropriate to blame the individuals who hold these offices for the mountain of problems that afflict the nation. Charlie Reese, a former columnist with the Orlando Sentinel, recently wrote this: “One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President and nine Supreme Court justices…are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not directly traceable to those 545 people.”
I think this view is extraordinarily naïve. Human governments are merely the reflection of the populations that elect them. A wise news commentator once said, “The chief cause of problems is solutions.” And as long as human consciousness remains at what I would call an earth-bound, materialistic level with politicians functioning as little more than problem-solving technicians, the resulting “mind-made world” will be exactly the mess that is observable now, no matter who is in office.
But does human consciousness have to continue to exist at an earth-bound, problem-solving level? Could the temporal control systems of the mind-made world be replaced by something we might call “spiritual government”? This obviously would require a wholesale change of human consciousness, a change acknowledging that this world can never be run by “good” ideas concocted by human minds but can only survive and thrive when a creative process is acknowledged. This has nothing to do with religion or human concepts of God, which are just inventions of the mind. It has everything to do with the elemental creative power operating the universe and which simultaneously forms the spiritual core of every human being.
Yes, you and I, as representatives of this universal creative power, are responsible for spiritual government on this planet, and as our consciousness changes to fully accept this cosmic identity and role, then beauty, order and true government are returned to the earth. Yes, there is need for leaders and facilitators in this process, in other words, for divine politicians. But these wise administrators of the creative process will emerge by a natural and spontaneous process of Self-selection, certainly not by human elections.
Writer and educator Alan Hammond beautifully describes the true politician’s role in these words: “Man’s affairs are organized quite naturally through a governing hierarchy of leaders, and here we may glimpse the true role of politicians in the social body of mankind. They would be the primary control points whereby the cosmic power might effect its purposes in the affairs of mankind on earth, the means whereby affairs spiritual and secular might be one, the means whereby God’s dominion in man might extend through man as God’s dominion in the earth.
“What a magnificent role the true politician has in the scheme of things! But a true politician must be a true man first. And when we as individuals are governed by, and govern our affairs with, divine character, then and only then is the way open for the appearance of the divine politician. You and I must lead the politician back to his true role.”
I can think of no better year than 2012 (a leap year!) to radiantly accept our political responsibilities and accelerate this process.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland school district. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-four years.