It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Does Nature Have Rights?

Do birds have rights? What about bees, flowers, and trees? Or whales and giraffes? Rivers and lakes? These are profound questions that tap into the very nature of life on Earth. Currently, people around the world are focused on climate change: Does it exist, and if so, is it natural or unnatural? Yet, climate change is only one aspect of the larger issue of how human beings relate to the world in general. Do we see Nature as something to be used and then discarded, or do we see it as a living presence that we are part of, the heart and soul of life on Earth?

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It's Complicated

“No matter how many bombs we drop, no matter how skillfully our soldiers fight, we are not responding to the ultimate challenge until we show the world how and why we must all learn to live in peace...”   -Sargent Shriver

I've Been Thinking...

There was so much news this week it was almost impossible to keep up with it all.

We began with stories of retribution, revenge, and a possible war. (Thank God cooler heads seemed to have prevailed.) Then we ended with what’s being portrayed as a war inside the House of Windsor, a.k.a. the British royal family. Impeachment, climate change, a downed airplane killing all on board, and the devastating loss of Australian life and wildlife also competed for our attention. 

Leave it to the queen to sum it all up for us. In a statement from Buckingham Palace, she or her aides pronounced: “It’s complicated." You think? Holy moly.

“It’s complicated” (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies) seems to perfectly sum up our politics, the Middle East, and how many families are feeling these days. 

What I took away from everything this week was this: life is indeed complicated, but it can also be really simple. Like Harry and Meghan, each of us has the personal right or duty to take a moment to step back and reassess what is or isn’t working—be it in our families, our relationships, our places of work, and or our politics. Then we can each make a decision to step up and speak out, or step back and stand down.

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How to Trust the Universe Fully

Folks often ask me how to develop trust in the Universe.

How do you not have trust and faith in life?

Look around.

We live in a crazy unique, amazing, unbelievable universe.

If you simply just observe life, observe the nature of what is, the nature of life: the sun, the sky, the moon, the animals.

There is an intelligence.

There is something that is functioning for all existence.

Every day for billions and billions of years life was existing.

Life is existing…

Enjoy my short video on How To Develop More Trust and Faith in the Universe. 

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Animals Teach Us To Love

For all of you who are animal lovers like me, I’d like to share a beautiful story about “Greyfriars Bobby.”

Bobby was a Skye Terrier that belonged to a police officer named John Gray in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1850s. Back then, police officers were required to have watchdogs. Terriers seemed a perfect fit because they are known for their watchful eye and booming bark.

Every day, Bobby would obediently follow his master on his daily rounds. Wherever Constable Gray was, there was Bobby faithfully walking beside him. The two were inseparable. Sadly, one day in 1858, Constable Gray died of tuberculosis. The poor dog must have been incredibly confused, finding himself all alone as he sat beside his master’s coffin. When it was time for the funeral procession, witnesses saw Bobby walking proudly in line, constantly looking up at the coffin that was being carried by Gray’s fellow officers.

Constable Gray was laid to rest in Greyfriars Churchyard. When the grave was filled in, friends, family and colleagues returned to their normal lives. But the Constable’s loyal companion Bobby continued to lay by his master’s grave day after day, rain or shine. Neighbors and passersby began to feed him, and this went on for years.

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There Is No chaos, There Is Only Creativity

The human mind is addicted to opposites, but it turns out that Nature isn’t. This statement becomes important in a deep way when it comes to chaos. In our minds chaos, or disorder, is the opposite of order. By thinking like this, we oblige the human tendency to prefer order over disorder. Leading an orderly life supports every kind of organized activity from making a meal out of raw ingredients assembled in an orderly way to making an iPhone or any other technological tool in an orderly way.

Chaos is the messiness that disrupts order and can cause it to fall apart. In Victorian times mental illness was often referred to as a disordered mind, and it is the mind that we rely upon to keep life organized and rational. But what if this whole discussion is simply wrong? As long as we believe in chaos, it serves as a potent threat. Cancer causes chaos in the regulation of the body; earthquakes shake up cities; riots in the street threaten civil society.

The threat of chaos changes when we shift our perspective. Expand your viewpoint, and chaos is the mask worn by creativity. To die of cancer returns your orderly body to a disorderly state known as decay, but the material of your body continues to contribute to the life of fungi, bacteria, and  other micro-organisms. Good for them, you might grumble, but without them, human DNA could not have evolved. Earthquakes topple buildings, but without seismic shifts, the present-day continents wouldn’t exist, or the life forms that inhabit Asia instead of Africa or North America instead of Europe.

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How Has Your Animal Helped You?

Animals are miraculous gifts to us. The power of an animal’s love, intuition and wisdom is greatly underestimated—whether it’s an ape that not only understands but also responds to sign language or a special cat that made the news by instinctively knowing when its nursing-home residents were about to leave this world. Then there’s the dog that helps its therapist owner detect abnormalities in her patients’ bodies and the story of the amazingly brave elephants that impulsively knew they had to save themselves by moving to higher ground when a devastating tsunami hit the west coast of Sumatra.

Animals have been our spiritual companions since the dawn of time. Humans have honored them throughout history, as can be seen in those early drawings on the walls of caves—man and dog hunting side by side. Egyptians have treated cats like gods, American Indians have honored many different animals on totem poles, and the elders in the tribe would teach the children about the importance of each living thing.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: What It Means to See

To see takes time like to have a friend takes time.

Georgia O’Keeffe

I was born a seer. Early on, words became the brushes with which I tried to paint what I saw. In time, I learned that while art is movement through space and music is movement through time, poetry is both. And each of us is born with an inclination toward seeing or hearing. I was born a painter and sculptor in a poet’s body.

Over the years, I’ve come across several legendary crossovers in the arts: those whose vision comes in one form, while their expression comes in another. Michelangelo’s genius came from being a sculptor forced by Pope Julius to paint, forced to compress and express his gift for three dimensions into two dimensions. The result was his masterpiece, The Sistine Chapel ceiling. George Bernard Shaw was a social theorist and critic in a playwright’s body. Aldous Huxley was a philosopher in a novelist’s body. And Robert Frost was a masterful short story writer, a weaver of potent yarns, born in a rhymer’s body.

The insight here is that each needed to express what they saw through the instrument they were given. This dynamic is what gave rise to their genius. I suspect that if George Bernard Shaw had expressed his social ideas in pure social writing, their potency would have been lost.

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The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

It would be ideal if reality and our model of reality merged into the same thing. A model of reality explains how the universe was created and how it operates. You might think that this is a definition of reality itself, but it isn’t, which can be illustrated by looking at the most popular model, known as naïve realism.

In a nutshell, naïve realism says that what you see is what you get. In other words, the reality presented by the five senses is reliable. Such a view appeals to common sense. It rests on experiences we take for granted. There is a physical world “out there” separate from our subjective experience “in here.” The physical world predates human beings by 13.8 billion years, going back to the Big Bang. If both of those things are true, then obviously what we think, feel, and desire “in here” has no effect on reality “out there.”

As unimaginably sophisticated as modern science has become, most scientists accept naïve realism, usually without question, even though each of the common-sense facts just mentioned is known to be false.

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Birdsong: Don't Let the Music Die...

In 1962, Rachel Carson called it the “silent spring,” the time when pesticides would destroy birds and other wildlife and leave humanity existing in a half-life of stunned silence. Her work was the impetus for the environmental movement and has influenced millions of people worldwide. Yet today, more than 50 years later, pesticides are still very much in use, and we are facing the slow, agonizing fulfillment of her prophecy. In September, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study of North American bird populations. The results: Since 1970, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds singing their spring songs, a staggering 29% gone from the Earth. Bird experts and conservationists are calling it “a full-blown crisis” and “the loss of nature.”*

The day I read these figures, I wept. I could feel my heart breaking. The losses are so huge. Beloved warblers in all their colorful variety: 617 million gone. Two of my all-time favorite birds: Baltimore orioles, 2 in 5 gone; wood thrushes, 6 in 10 gone. It is hard to fathom. Almost unbelievable. The birds that I eagerly anticipated seeing and hearing each spring are vanishing and may one day be gone forever. What would spring be without birds? Without the robin’s cheery song and the redwing blackbird’s flashing colors and ringing call? Dead air, everywhere.

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It’s Still Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reevaluate, Realign, & Release for Deep Healing

It’s that time again…actually, we are already halfway through this cycle of Mercury Retrograde! Right about now, you’re probably thinking I KNEW IT! That’s why everything has gone awry. So, if you just got frazzled and also weirdly relieved at the mention of this planetary cycle, take a deep breath. Today I’m going to share my insight into this Retrograde and help you make the most of the next nine days, as I feel the last week of Mercury Retrograde is the most profound. 

For a quick refresher, from October 31st through November 20th, Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio, the sign of deep-diving and deeper healing. Mercury Retrograde happens three to four times per year when the planet Mercury slows down and appears to stop and move backward. It’s an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train—as it recedes, it appears to go backward. 

The purpose of Mercury Retrograde is to review and revise our life and our connection with reality. In many ways, this time helps us prepare for the future by propelling us to realign and reevaluate our plans and ideas. Since Mercury rules communication, things most often go haywire in that area—computers go on the fritz, (totally happened to me) miscommunications abound, and often the internet goes down. 

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Dancing Butterflies, Ghost Orchids, Wild Skies: The Florida Dimension

“To live here is to know God, to live here is to understand the power of Nature, to live here is to celebrate life.”—Panache Desai

Like a quartz crystal sparkling in the sun, Florida has many facets. Last year, in late June 2018, my partner Anne and I moved here from Boston. As we drove south along the eastern seaboard, we felt ourselves dropping past identities and memories along the way. By the time we reached Florida, we were living lighter, not anticipating or looking back, but just being, living fully in the present moment. It was a heightened state of awareness, and it carried us seamlessly to the edge of new beginnings and unexpected experiences in an entirely different place.

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No Visible Trace: Vanishing of the Past

I seem to be living through a time in which everything previously experienced in my life is falling away. In the midst of these changes, I find myself standing face to face with a truth that has always existed but is now front and center in my consciousness: There is no past. When we have lived an experience, it disappears from this dimension. It may continue in another dimension, but here, now, in the present, it quite literally no longer exists. In our memories, it shape-shifts and eventually fades as well. We are left with this moment, nothing else.

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Resignation or Surrender?

What’s the difference between resignation and surrender? To me, resignation seems to have a hopeless aspect to it, giving up on possibility. Surrender doesn’t have that flavor. It’s more a letting go of control, so that life can bring possibility to you instead of your clutching at it. Yet, perhaps there is more to resignation than first meets the eye. What if you have to go through resignation to get to surrender? What if in resigning yourself to life not turning out the way you thought it would, you let go at such a deep level that complete surrender is at last possible? In expecting nothing, you open the door to everything.

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The Bench

The path next to our home opens up to unlimited hiking, biking and horse riding trails.  It also leads the way to a stone bench that is situated on a saddle between two peaks.  I have fallen in love with both the trail and the mystical meeting place. It is here that I connect with family, friends, spirits and always Mother Earth.  Or maybe, it is here that I stop and really open up.

I leave my house by 8:00 in the morning, this is when the temperatures are only in the high 80’s.  Durning the weekdays I might see a couple people, usually I encounter no one.  Most of the path is a mild climb with dirt and sharp rocks.  It is not until you choose a trail that climbs to one of the peaks, that you get steep terrain.  Even the mountain bikers have to get off and carry their bikes on parts of the technical trail.  Everyone I meet is happy and enjoying the sun and the expansive feeling. Or maybe, my happiness is just being reflected back😊

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Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll And … Shapeshifting With Plants

A Special Note from John Perkins

I just finished speaking at the Colours of Ostrava music festival in the Czech Republic, am now headed into the Amazon rain forest, and then in September to Omega in Upstate New York to facilitate an experiential workshop: “Soaring with the Jaguar: Shapeshifting with Plants into a Better World.”
 

Question: What do these three seemingly different venues share in common?
 

Answer: They empower us to raise our consciousness, to steer our space station Earth to the future we want. 
 

When I was a Peace Corps volunteer deep in the Amazon in the late 1960s, Ayahuasca saved my life – and forever changed it. Today, shamans, plants, musicians and speakers at many different forums inspire us to change our lives. A large part of the message involves honoring our connections with nature and to being good Earth stewards. 

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The Magic Behind Creation

Magic is supposed to be a primitive belief, and in modern society it has largely disappeared. Science and technology are not only triumphs of rationality; they represent victories over magic, which is irrational. It is magical to explain thunder as the anger of the gods. It is magical to believe in the story of Creation taking place in seven days as related in the Book of Genesis.

But magic clings stubbornly to a foothold in our lives. Children are delighted by it, and not just children. Einstein said that he was the most unlikely person to discover relativity, but the theory came to him due to a streak of wonder that he had retained from childhood. Wonder is the wide-eyed reaction a child has on seeing a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, and Einstein claimed that no great discoveries could be made in science without a sense of wonder at Nature’s mysteries.

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Living Life in Full Bloom

I love finding symbolism in life while honoring practices. Both of these actions have helped me experience peace in times of grief, stress and loneliness.

About 16 years ago my husband and I were trying to complete our family with a third child. My other two pregnancies were moderately smooth, so I was shocked when I suffered a loss. This miscarriage kicked off a couple of very stressful and grief filled years. I remember after one of the three failed pregnancies, sitting on the kitchen floor crying. I felt completely lost, even shattered. I tried to keep it together for our two daughters.

My life became filled with blood tests, doctor’s appointments, hope and stress. It was also during this time that each Fall I would plant some flower bulbs. This is truly out of character. While planting the blue Iris bulbs I found a little symbolism. The bulbs go thru a very long, dark and cold winter and magically in the Spring new life shows up. If you are lucky, that new life will be in full bloom in the early Summer.

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How do we live a fulfilling life?

Human civilization is at an evolutionary crossroads where unsustainable human behavior is precipitating the planet's 6th Mass Extinction Event. Five times in Earth’s history, life was thriving when some event precipitated a wave of extinction, eliminating 70 to 90 percent of all plant and animal species. The last mass extinction event, 66 million years ago, noted for wiping out the dinosaurs, was apparently due to a massive asteroid impact in Mexico that upended the global web of life.

Epigenetics recognizes that the environment, and more importantly, our perception of the environment, controls genetic activity and behavior and thus shifts the focus of evolutionary theory to the role of the nervous system and consciousness. The Darwinian notion of the survival of the fittest is giving way to a more scientifically accurate, as well as, more positive theory of evolution, one that emphasizes the role of cooperation, interaction, and mutual dependence among all life forms. In the words of Lynn Margulis, “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.”

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The Ocean Never Stops

One wave after another, tiny or tremendous, they just keep coming. This is Life.

What do you name the waves?
Challenging?
Frightening?
Hurtful?
Miracles?
Blessings?
Disillusioning?
Enlightening?

Wave after wave. They just move through. They just “Go.” And they come and they go … and go and go and go. They never stop.

There is always an opportunity for another. If this one passed you by and there wasn’t really a chance to “hold on” to anything before you noticed it flowing right on through your life, no to worry, there will be another.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: In Our Nature

As skin will stretch and mend a cut, kindness will heal all our divisions in time. Just as something cellular and internal causes trees to grow and fish to develop fins, something equally cellular and internal causes the heart to open. This openness is what releases the enzyme we know as kindness. And while being vulnerable opens the heart, that earned tenderness yields a wholeheartedness that reveals all forms of kinship. It’s how Grandma Minnie made her way from Russia as a girl and became a strong weed growing in Brooklyn. I will never forget her broken-English dignity, sitting proudly on her stoop, no matter what came her way. She was always ready to weather the next storm with kindness, ready to welcome the needy and to speak up against cruelty. I don’t think she thought of this as brave or altruistic. It was just part of her nature, part of our nature as living beings. Her innate kindness helped her endure. It is the strength of our kindness that roots life in the world. It is our initiation through kindness that lets us grow from I to we. I only know that every time I give, I receive more. Every time I give, the act illuminates my soul and I am enlarged out of hiding, the way an orchid opens to arrive as itself. So, when in doubt, give. When dark and confused, give. For your doubt and darkness and confusion are cuts that reaching out with heart will mend.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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