Sunday, May 25, 2014

Evolution

The following is a guest post by Elisha Hurlocker.

elisha is a communist, an anarchist, and a pirate. he's a lover of people, god, and everything else. he currently lives with the karen people on the thai-burma border, and has been one of my closest friends since we were just whippersnappers.
 - shanti



What is evolution? For the sake of this article, lets define it as progression towards perfection. All of creation is constantly changing to be better suited for life on this beautiful mysterious blue rock we have come to know as home. Dinosaurs have transcended a life bound to earth, and have evolved into what we now call birds. Wolf-like predators who couldn't find enough food on land took to the waters, and have evolved into what we now call whales. And small, ape-like creatures came down from the trees, started to walk on two feet, became aware of their own existence, and some say they even transcend evolution. 

Or at least that is what us humans think. We think that we're somehow separate from nature, that because of our superior intelligence, we no longer have to play by the same rules as every other creature. We have become disconnected from Creation. And for possibly the first time in the history of our earth, de-evolution has taken place. Instead of changing towards perfection, we are changing towards destruction. Instead of living in union with creation, human beings have become somewhat of a virus. If we continue on our current path, our species will certainty die out, and possibly even bring the rest of creation with us. 

Throughout the history of everything that has ever lived, when a certain species is faced with a threat, it has two choices - evolve or die. And I think it's fair to say that we are facing an eminent threat. The survival of not only humans, but of all life on earth is under great danger. Scientists say we are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction in earth's history. In the past 500 years alone, an estimated 1,000 species have gone extinct, and that number is only rising. Polar caps are melting, which means a rise in sea levels, which means the flooding of coastal cities in the years to come. As if that weren't bad enough, we are about to go through a polar shift, which means a substantial decrease in earth's magnetic field, which means danger from solar winds. And to make things even worse, war, cooperate greed, and pollution all threaten not only the survival of the human race, but of all species on earth.

During times of evolution, the individuals of a certain species who are more able to change to fit the current conditions are more apt to survive. The ones who aren't able, or in our case, refuse to change, die out. But we are in a unique phase of evolution, because for the first time in earth's history, its not a matter of changing ourselves to be better suited to a naturally changing environment, but instead learning to live in harmony with our environment before it becomes too hostile to support our species.

Who are the ones who will change, and who are the ones who won't? Well, in a world where greed, hate, violence, and a never ending lust for power threaten all life on earth, the ones who love will be the ones who lead the way to a new humanity. Love, compassion, and unity with creation are the next phases in human evolution. For if we continue down the path of hate and greed, we will end up killing ourselves. Higher intelligence and changes in our physical appearance will do no good to prepare us for the coming changes. If we are to survive, our evolution must be internal. If we are to survive, we must learn to love. We must learn to cooperate with not only other humans, but with all of creation. We must learn compassion, empathy, and unity. We must learn to live a simple life, abandoning all of the stuff that only strengthens the separation that is threatening to end our race. 

As evolution shows, creation is always working towards perfection. And in a world where hate and violence threaten to destroy all life on earth, it is the ones who love who will lead the way to a new humanity. Love is the next phase in human evolution, because if we don't learn how to love, there will be no more humans left to evolve. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?"

- Danielle LaPorte

Sunday, May 11, 2014

run naked

this is actually a river in burma, not manitou.
but it's the closest i had.
sitting upon a boulder, surrounded by a crashing white river, beneath the hot sun, i wrote this poem:

i sometimes sit naked 
with god
and we laugh
and we make love
and i forget to wonder
if i'm on the right path
and i forget to feel
shame at my nakedness
and i forget everything
for that 
one
moment.

i wasn't actually naked when i wrote the poem. but, reading it over to myself, i smiled and thought... hey, why not?
i'm no stranger to spending time with god naked in the forest. there was only one problem - i was not that far from where people could potentially walk by and see me. so i stood up to cross the river in order to go down behind some large boulders where my nakedness would be shielded "from the eyes of the unclean". so i made a flying leap from one boulder to another, over the crashing waves. i was wearing my longyi, the burmese men's skirt that i often wear. if you've ever worn a skirt and tried to make leaps, i'm sure you know what came next.
my leaping legs came to a sudden halt as the unstretching skirt disallowed them from spanning too wide of a gap. my front foot didn't quite make it to the expectant boulder in front of me, and i dropped like a pine cone into the small waterfall, my chin striking the spot that had been preordained for my foot. my beard didn't break the fall very well, and as soon as i had climbed out of the water, i found that the blood upon the rock and my hands was flowing from beneath my unprotective beard.

since i couldn't see the wound on my chin, and there did seem to be a fair amount of blood, i hesitantly decided to abandon my naked meditation project and headed back to downtown manitou where i could have friends make sure that i wasn't going to die from blood loss. so as i walked back down the river and then down the road, i tried to avoid dripping any blood in my pocket notebook as i wrote this second poem, a piece of advice for any who may follow in my footsteps:

when you run to god,
run naked.
if you run with clothes on,
you're likely to get hurt.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Who Would Jesus Shoot? Part Four - Case Study


**This is part 4 of a 4-part series by Jeriah Bowser. Read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.**


Jeriah Bowser is a wilderness guide who teaches primitive living skills to people. He writes provocative and progressive articles for The Hampton Institute, and has a propensity for challenging not only the status quo, but the avant garde. Anarchist, Satyagrahi, healer, writer, primitivist.

Who Would Jesus Shoot?
Case Study

I will be the first to admit that I am no Jedi master of nonviolence. It is an ideal which I daily strive to
manifest, and yet seem to hourly miserably fail at. The times when I actually do actively love people when I want to respond with aggression or pacifism are beautiful moments, indeed. 

One such example happened last night, actually! I was at a local coffee shop with some friends, enjoying some tea and live music, and there was a severely inebriated man who was heckling the musician and causing a general ruckus. I chose to engage in his story and approached him, while my wife got him a coffee. After a bit of lively conversation, I gathered that Howard had nowhere to sleep for the night and was planning on robbing people to buy more alcohol to stay drunk all night. I decided that in the best interests of him and the community, it would be best if that plan was not carried to completion. 

As I stepped out of the coffee house to call the shelter and see if they could take him for the night, I watched the owner of the place walk over to Howard and begin asking him to leave. After a minute of watching the body language of the two, I had a feeling that Howard was becoming very escalated and this situation was about to become very violent and out of control. I quickly stepped back in and tried to gently inform the store owner that his customer was very drunk and not responding to his approach very well. I asked him if I could speak to Howard for a minute and try to help him leave the shop, as the detox unit was on their way to pick him up. He agreed, and I spent the next few minutes trying to deescalate him and gain his trust, so that we could walk out of the store, as opposed to the police coming in and arresting him, which would definitely end disastrously. 

This turned out to be a difficult task, as Howard was already escalated and aggressive. I could feel my anxiety and fear increasing, as he could have easily swung at me at any moment. I had to keep reminding myself that he was my brother who was hurt and confused, or else my ego and fear would have taken over and I would have responded to his aggression with my own. 

I slowly and gently helped him stand up and walk out of the shop, where the detox unit was waiting for him. After a brief exchange with the police where I coldly asked them what would happen to Howard and made them assure me that he would be taken care of, Howard and I shook hands and I walked back in the store to finish my tea. 

I had barely picked up my cup when I overheard the store owner speaking to a police officer, saying that he was going to press charges on Howard for threatening him. I was very upset at this turn of events, as I felt that the store owner had approached Howard very aggressively and had escalated him to an aggressive state as well. I do not believe that pushing someone deeper into the system is an effective way of helping heal an illness. I had a brief conversation with the store owner, where I asked him to not press charges, as it was not helpful to anybody but satiating his own bruised ego. He respectfully ignored my request, and I became very upset and angry at him, complaining to my wife and friends how much of a jerk he was being.

Now, lets examine the different stories that happened last night. There is the story of Howard, of whom I unfortunately do not know much about why or how he ended up where he was last night, in the state he was in. Yet from my brief interaction with him I gathered that he was very accustomed to being treated as less than human, and was no stranger to police brutality or being kicked out of establishments. One can argue that he chose his life and the consequences that come with it, and I would argue that every man is my brother, and no living creature should ever be treated in that way, no matter what their life choices are.

There is the story of the store owner, whom I also don’t know much about. From my conversations with him and hearing his employees describe him, I have gathered that he is a very high-strung, demanding employer who is constantly worried about keeping his small business afloat, and was worried that a drunk heckler might endanger his business and his reputation. He is probably very familiar with situations like that, and doesn't have time to sit down and talk to every drunk or deranged person who comes into his store. 

And then there is my story. I have an innate sympathy towards marginalized and oppressed people, and an innate distrust of any authority/power figure, whether that be a business owner,  a police officer, or government entity. This is something that I must be aware of, as it affects how I approach people and situations. I approached this situation with an automatic sympathy for Howard, and an automatic distrust of the store owner and the police unit who came to pick him up (it was a huge compromise for me to even call the detox unit, but there was no other option for him at the time, and I figured it would be better at this stage then in a few hours when he had robbed someone.)

When I saw the store owner engaging Howard in an aggressive way, I saw a story about to unfold that involved violence, arrests, and spilling my tea. I felt that I could diffuse the situation in a non-violent way that would be beneficial for all parties, and so I stepped in and attempted to use my de-escalation skills to write a different story. And on a very basic level, I succeeded. There are many layers to this story that one could dissect and critique, and I will be the first to admit that there are many other things I could have done, and Howard will, unfortunately, probably be on the street again in a week or so. However, for the purpose of this discussion, a violent situation was avoided and Howard is hopefully getting the help he needs right now. 

But what about my interactions with the store owner and police? I didn't validate the owner's feelings and experience at all, I labeled him as an oppressor who was trying to shove someone further into the system, and never let him out of that box. I was hostile and distrustful to the police, and interrogated them on what would happen to Howard and what his rights were. I repeatedly complained about the store owner pressing charges to my wife and friends, until my wife finally told me to shut up. Although I created peace in one area, I simultaneously created division in several others. 

I guess the moral of that story is that it is never easy. Even Gandhi constantly struggled to maintain his objective and loving view of the British as he was fighting against them, and was constantly reminding himself that he was fighting for truth, not against people. And… it is possible!

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” wrote Anne Frank. 

If all I have done by writing these articles is stimulate a few neurons and tickle your altruistic fantasies, then I have failed. There are thousands of opportunities for you to practice non-violence in your world today. Now I invite you to share your stories, questions, hopes, fears, and insecurities and opinions on non-violence, that crazy rabbi Yeshua, and how to apply his teachings to this crazy world we share.