My Columns of Explorations and Reflections
I am, as one friend put it, a "professional seeker." I am always full of questions about life, about my human nature and my divine nature, about God, about the spiritual journey. I want to understand myself, other people, and the Universe better. What do spiritual teachers mean when they talk about the soul, false and true selves, spirituality, surrender? Is there only one meaning, or are there many ways to see such deep and rich ideas?
In this section I would like to share my reflections and explorations about a myriad of life issues we all share, like those I mentioned above, and topics like despair, sin, prayer, true happiness. I hope these will be useful thoughts and insights for all of our journeys. This website is part of my own unfolding journey, so I expect we’ll keep scrolling, scrolling, scrolling down the page as my life goes on.
If you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, or to share your thoughts, please go to my Contact page. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
THE FUTURE OF OUR DEMOCRACY
"Nothing so sharpens one's appreciation for democracy as bearing witness to its demolition."
This is a quote from The New Yorker
in a series entitled "The Future of Democracy." For me this is poignantly true. With America's democracy continuously in decline and under threat I
WE CAN CHANGE
Stepping Out of the Consumer Culture
Why do we need to step out of the consumer culture when our whole system is designed for and sustained by consumerism. How do we change that?
This is indeed a daunting task and a tall order. We’ve all been raised on the
The New Year offers us an opportunity to envision the year ahead, and to revision our lives if we so desire.
We might think of what we might like to do more of, or less of. We might consider that we’d like to see more of someone and less of someone else. One technique that helps me make decisions,
A Gift for the Earth
It’s a poignant time of year to be writing about how we need to be changing our consumption habits and buying less stuff.
We’re thinking about what we will buy for our friends, family and co-workers to show our appreciation and love for them. It’s just that we can no longer ignore the
I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy.
THE POWER OF ONE / THE POWER OF MILLIONS
Inspired by 16 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg,
4 million people from 163 countries took to the streets on September 20 to demand immediate and effective action to address the climate crisis.
What are the demands?
WHAT WE CAN DO
We all need to come to grips with the climate crisis, and reckon with the reality that it is our growth-oriented, profit-driven economic system and consumer culture that has caused this and other crises we face today.
We live on a finite planet with limited resources for nearly 8 billion
LOVE IN ACTION
“There’s a powerful force for change in America,” says Christian leader Serene Jones, “but powerful forces oppose it. It’s a battle that is as much spiritual as political.”
Does this statement ring true for you as it does for me?
TURNING THE TITANIC
How does this metaphor relate to our modern times? What does the Titanic stand for? How do we turn the Titanic?
I first heard this metaphor used by author Terry Patten in a talk to Google employees. For me it’s a very graphic and powerful image to describe the enormity of the changes we humans
Very few of us make changes easily.
We like our routines. We find it easier to stay where we are even if it’s uncomfortable or self-destructive. It’s hard to get out of a rut, whether positive or negative.
Sometimes change is forced on us by circumstances
Do you need reasons to stay hopeful right now?
Then please read “Here’s Why You Should Stay Hopeful Right Now,” by John Pavlovitz. I’ve reprinted his essay below because it is one of the most powerful, poetic and compelling writings on
GROWTH, THE ECONOMY AND HAPPINESS
We know about growth and the economy, but how does happiness fit into this picture?
Is there positive growth and negative growth? What kind of growth do we want? Let’s start with growth and the economy. We’ve always assumed, and been told, that it was good to grow the economy. After World
WHAT GETS YOUR GOAT?
Where does the expression “What gets your goat?” come from?
The most common story is that in older days goats were stabled with racehorses as calming company. A person with ill will and malicious intent might steal the goat before the race and
WE FIRST: Stories We Live, and Could Die By
What are the stories we tell ourselves about the world we live in? What do we believe?
We need to take a realistic look at these stories and beliefs so that we are not deluded into thinking everything is okay, or will be okay if only. . .
It's about WE. ALL
When I look at the crises unfolding around our world, and all the good work being done to end these crises, I go back and forth between feelings of hopelessness and hope.
There are reasons for both. When I’m at the hopeless end of the spectrum I remind myself that hopelessness leads to
A LINE IN THE SAND
What does a line in the sand mean? Why does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describe our present Earth situation this way?
On the one hand if we cross the line and continue as we are we will face irreversible and dire consequences because of increasing greenhouse gas
The Butterfly Effect
What is the Butterfly Effect? And why do we care? How does it relate to our making a difference?
Here’s a brief description of the Butterfly Effect from an article entitled “Everything You Do Matters.”
"Scientists scoffed at
Why bother to vote?! Why bother to vote when Congress is not listening to We the People, nor is it working for the common good but rather for big money, special interest groups and super wealthy individuals.
So voting doesn't appear to make any difference. About two-thirds of eligible
What Are We Consuming?
I want to talk about what we consume, not just food and material stuff, but also what we consume with our eyes and ears.
Before looking at the intangibles we consume, let me briefly list the questions I think we need to ask ourselves when we purchase
FACTORY FOOD / FACTORY FARMING
Not everyone can drive an electric car, take public transportation, walk or bike to where they want to go, but all of us can affect the health of our planet with our diet.
We’re now coming to terms with the huge and dire consequences of our meat and dairy diet on global warming and climate
At the Table of Change
The first bit of good news is that we're becoming aware of and beginning to grasp the enormity of the negative environmental impact of our meat-based diet on the Earth.
The second bit of good news is that there are many alternatives now coming online and into supermarkets and restaurants
Talking Turkey: What's Our Beef?
Does our diet affect the health of our planet? Can we address climate change and global warming with our forks?
The answer to both questions is YES.
Turns out that what we eat is a big deal when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Raising
Get Money Out of Politics
Did you know that 80% of us Americans agree on one thing? There is too much money in politics!
”If we want to save our species and our planet, we must get the corrupting influence of big money out of politics.”
This is what a subscriber wrote to me after my
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
Why does this old expression—See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil—come to mind when I think about our multiple planetary challenges and crises?
The main reason is that for a variety of reasons many of us don't want to look, hear or talk about the problems we face. Who does?! We can feel
The Road Ahead: Heartbreak and Hope
Where does your road take you? Where are we headed as a human community?
The first question is personal and intuitive for each of us. To the second question I would say that we don’t know. We do know that the way we are living now must change. I found this quote below insightful as we deal with
Happy New Year Extended
We like to wish people "Happy New Year," and we mean it.
We want people to be healthy, to enjoy their lives, to have meaningful work and relationships. Along with the happy new year wishes I've received, this from author and teacher, Lee Klinger Lesser and psychologist, Mirta Medici,
New Year's Resolutions & Dedications
It's that time again when we reflect on the year past and on what things and ways of being we would like to bring into our lives in the new year.
We make earnest resolutions—I'll get up a half hour earlier to meditate, I'll be better about calling family members on the phone, I'll stop eating so
Gifts We Give and Receive
This photo is of me on my one year old birthday with brothers and sister bearing gifts. The presents probably didn't mean much to me then, but now that many birthdays and Christmases have gone by I can consider and appreciate the deeper subtleties of giving and receiving gifts. What have been your
The Story of Stuff
Do you know the Story of Stuff? It begins with the Earth.
The short version is that we exploit and extract all kinds of natural resources that we then turn into all kinds of stuff often with the use of toxic chemicals and cheap, hard labor. The result is stuff that is “designed for the dump.”
For the Love of Earth
What inspires us to love the Earth?
What moves us to see and feel Earth as our source, or as some say, our Mother Earth? I don’t know the answer to that—it’s such a personal question—but I can see things that keep us from that kind of close, loving relationship which we need to have if the
Drawdown: Game Over or Game On?
What is Drawdown?
“Drawdown is that point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis.” This is the point, the purpose, and the plan of Project Drawdown—the book, the website and the 100 solutions presented to us to
Exposing and Exploring Capitalism
“I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.”
That was the response from Representative Nancy Pelosi to a college student who cited a study by Harvard University that showed 51% of Americas between 18 and 29 no longer support the system of capitalism and
Inner Fireworks: Changing How We See
We've all had flashes of inspiration
, bright ideas, moments of clarity, realizations that the old way of thinking or seeing something isn't "it" anymore. Sometimes this new insight comes from within; sometimes it comes from hearing or reading someone else’s perspective. I want to
Looking at the Economy Another Way
What do we mean by "limits to growth?"
I first read the book Limits to Growth
published by the Club of Rome in the mid-seventies. It was the first of many eye-opening books I read beginning with Frances Moore Lappé's Diet for a Small Planet,
that shook the foundations of all I
Super Bloom of Activists - What do I do?
The question for all of us who are wanting to make the world a better place arises regularly. WHAT DO I DO?
Like many of you I've been looking at and living this question since before the 2016 election made it clear that we can no longer sit on the sidelines of politics or our planetary evolution.
Anxiety, Activism and Self-Care
What do I mean by self-care and how does self-care relate to anxiety and activism?
I think it would be fair to say that most of us are reckoning with the very uncertain times we are in and feel various degrees of anxiety and fear. So how do we relieve this periodic angst?
Get a Life . . . And Balance
Do you know the expression “Get a life”?
In my early school years one kid would say that to another, meaning “Get it together, Wise up, You’re really out of it, Don’t be such a ______ " (fill in the blank).That expression came back to me as I was reckoning recently with my own low
The Unifying Story: What Are We For?
What are the values, the ideas, the vision that unite us?
What are those “bedrock commonalities” that we can rally around to create a world that works for all of us and the Earth? We are now over 7 billion people strong and if we don’t work together we will all sink in the same boat. Hear
A Love Army
What would a Love Army look like?
Pictured here is one example. On October 15, 1983 a corps of about 17,000 people joined hands to encircle Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility near Denver. It was the culmination of five years of activism against this nuclear facility. It was finally closed
The Desirable Story
I don’t care whom you voted for or against,
or even if you didn’t vote at all. What I do care about is:1) that we understand and deal effectively with the pain most people in this country are in, 2) that we use this election as a wakeup call to look deeply at the reality of our present
Truth or Con?
Can we discern the truth from a con?
Can we tell the difference between an honest statement and spin? Up until recently most of us believed that “free trade” and a “free market” were good things for us, things that would benefit and enhance our lives. But we’ve discovered, with the
You’re not alone if you’re disgusted with American politics and feel your vote doesn’t count for much these days.
Sadly, we’re seeing all too clearly that we no longer have a government by the people, but government by the corporations and the very wealthy. Don’t we still hope
Who's a Grownup?
“Who in your mind is a grownup?” a sales person asked me as I made my purchase. She had seen the bumper sticker my partner and I produced. I sensed she wanted me to tell her whom I was voting for in the presidential election; I didn’t have time or energy to engage a political discussion so I
Violence and Terrorism
It has disturbed me for a long time that we do a lot of looking at the dead and wounded bodies coming downstream, and railing at the perpetrators of the violence, but we don’t talk so much about what's going on upstream, and WHY people are committing these atrocities? What’s motivating them?
NEVER DOUBT that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Activism is defined as “the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of
Did anyone ever imagine a round-the-world flight using only solar power? It’s almost unbelievable yet this is the real journey and mission of Solar Impulse 2
, pictured here at the end of a 62-hour flight from Hawaii to California. This amazing
Fun and Change
In the summer of 1961 Dad took my older sister and me to the Tivoli Amusement Park in Copenhagen. As we screamed down a roller coaster mountain, Dad turned around and got this picture. We were having terrified fun! I doubt that our shrieking changed anything except to increase the amount of adrenalin
Heaven on Earth
What’s Heaven on Earth for you? When have you experienced Heaven on Earth? What was the situation like? The reason I’m asking and raising this unusual topic is that I recently had the pleasure of taking an online course with Martin Rutte and the Shift Network. The purpose of
Bringing Food Home
Food has been a life-changer for me. The first big shift was not a result of eating a particular food, but from reading a book about food, namely Diet For a Small Planet
, by Frances Moore Lappé. The second time when food sent me on a new course was gulping down two helpings of bland, pale
This painting, called “Break on Through,” was inspired by the flaming pink tennis shoes my acupuncturist's assistant was wearing one day. She's a cheerful, 60-something grandmother who knows how to express happiness! I recalled the lyrics of the song by The Doors; “Break on through to the
Gifts of the Spirit, Part 2
Here’s something I found interesting and unexpected: I went to Amazon in search of a particular book called The Gift.
The heading on the page read, “Everyone has a gift that can change a life.” The possible titles that turned up were The Gift of . . . Imperfection . . . Fear . . .
Gifts, Part 1
The hot topic of the Christmas season is always about what to give to the people we care about.
This month I want to explore tangible gifts, the ones that are touchable, huggable, useable, returnable, edible, breakable, or wearable. Next month I will
When looking at the crises unfolding around our world, I go back and forth between feelings of hope and hopelessness. There are reasons for both. But in spite of the uncertain future, I find it doesn’t really change how I go about my life because I will do whatever I can to stay positive, and to bring
Fear & Courage
We’re all familiar with the basic three responses to fear: FIGHT! FLIGHT! FREEZE! If we’re looking for solutions to our planetary crises, none of these responses brings about necessary change. But what if we choose to respond with FORWARD?
FORWARD: What we want is
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it: If you can dream it you can become it.” So says William Arthur Ward, popular American author. How many of us imagine and dream of a better world?! We long for a world where everyone’s basic needs for enough healthy food, clothing, shelter, and economic
I came across the idea of “Radical Love” in an interview on Engaged Buddhism as part of a conference on “The Politics of Love and Justice,” sponsored by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. (See references below.) As with acceptance and prayer I wanted to look more deeply into this
I’ve taken this title from a CD by Matthew Fox (Radical Prayer, Love in Action
) because it suggests to me the idea of deepening and expanding our idea of prayer. Probably the most common way we think about prayer—at least I did for a long time—is that portrayed in the photograph
Why radical? The origin of the word radical relates to going to the root, or the essential. So radical acceptance implies a deep sense of acceptance, an acceptance that goes deeper than the mind, a feeling that goes to the essence, to our hearts.
I first came across
On Being Perfect
The word perfect is another loaded and intimidating word like sin, which we explored in April. I’m sure we each have an inner idea of what being perfect looks like: here’s a very short list of the impossible goals and expectations I have:
If I were
What is Sin?
IN THE CHRSTIAN TRADITION this is the time of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. We Christians are told that Jesus died for our sins
. But what does that mean? And what does it mean to me personally? When I think of this great spiritual leader and wisdom teacher (who has deep personal
Lent (which began February 18—this photograph of one of our oaks was taken in the fall; now it is leafless and loaded with snow!) is for many people a time of self-reflection, abstinence of some kind, and change. The theme of this period is letting go. It seems pretty easy to me to give up chocolate
HOW DO WE BEAR the constant barrage of news about the suffering, deaths and crises in all parts of the world without becoming immobilized with grief and despair? How can we witness man’s inhumanity to man—and other species and the planet—and stay positive? How can we bear the suffering and
Revolutions and Resolutions
I love how my dear and inspiring friend and teacher, Rev. Maxine Kaye, speaks of New Year's "Revolutions"—"turning every negative belief on its head, each limiting idea into one of expansion, and all undesirable feelings into healthy, constructive ideals to focus on in the coming year."
Advent! What's Coming?
Advent is a significant time and event in the Christian faith and liturgical year when Christians await the birth of Jesus, the coming of the Christ. But the essence of this event can touch everyone regardless of his or her religious tradition or faith. In the bigger picture—the symbolic
Who am I? Who are You?
When asked on Halloween “Who are you?” Little Kai answers, “I’m a LION! ” When we ask ourselves, Who am I? what do we respond? This question came up for me in a new way when I recently joined Facebook. I was asked to put myself in a category. I had to pick from twenty-five and it was appropriate
What and Where is Home?
Home Sweet Home.
If we are Homesick, we long for Home.
If we're homesick for it, it means we've been there before.
We can find it again.
Who knows, but we must find Home!
We set out on an
The Nature of the Spiritual Journey
What would you say if someone asked you, "What is the spiritual journey?" Probably most of us have a felt-sense of what we mean by the spiritual journey, but I wanted to articulate what it means for me from what I know so far from my personal experience. Here are my thoughts as vignettes.