David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
At the end of this month, Lorian will be hosting its first major public conference. I’m excited about it because of the excellent roster of international presenters it will have and also because it will be my first time giving public talks, other than online, in several years. I’m looking forward to it, and naturally, I hope you can come.
The conference is called “Gaianeering,” a term coined by my Lorian colleague Jeremy Berg to describe the many ways, inner and outer, that we can contribute to the wholeness of our planet and to our own spiritual development. Which is, besides to make a shameless plug for this event, what I’d like to discuss in this month’s David’s Desk.
In 1979, the British scientist James Lovelock published the book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. In it, he presented evidence that through the auto-regulatory systems of the biosphere, the Earth acted as a living organism. At the suggestion of his friend, the author William Golding, he proposed to call this organism by the Greek name for the goddess of the earth and the mother of all life, Gaia. This was the beginning of what was called the “Gaia Hypothesis,” co-formulated by Lovelock and the American microbiologist, Dr. Lyn Margulis. Although initially met with skepticism by their scientific colleagues, further research generated enough evidence in support of this hypothesis that it became accepted and graduated to becoming the “Gaia Theory.”
Both Lovelock and Margulis were Lindisfarne Fellows, members of the Lindisfarne Association founded by cultural historian and author, William Irwin Thompson. This was a gathering of scientists, artists, engineers, economists, historians, spiritual teachers, philosophers, and even an astronaut, all promoting a society committed to holistic thinking and behavior and working towards a positive future for humanity. As I was a Lindisfarne Fellow as well, I had occasion to meet and talk with them both at the Association’s annual conferences.
The theme of one of these conferences was “Gaia: A Way of Knowing,” which later became the title of a book edited by William Irwin Thompson. The conference focused on the idea of Gaia not simply as a way of talking about the planet as a living organism but as a way of describing a more holistic, ecological, systems-oriented world view, a way of understanding the world as networks and patterns of interconnections, relationships, and interdependent wholes rather than as collection of discrete but separate entities. In other words, how would an organism think that was responsible for the vast, complex interactions that make up the ecology of the planet and that sustain all life? How would we think with such a focus?
I thought of this worldview as “thinking like a planet,” a way of thinking and engaging the world in ways that are holistic, ecological, and systemic, honoring the whole and the whole-within-the-part. It is a worldview that is native and instinctive to the non-physical beings who are my subtle colleagues, but it’s one that’s not so familiar yet to most of us living in the industrialized world which is historically based on a non-holistic, non-ecological way of perceiving and acting in the world. As we are seeing the destructive consequences of that approach, it seems to me the challenge of our time, for our survival and the survival of many other species that share the biosphere with us, is to learn how to “think like a planet.” It is for me a form of thinking that is infused with love and the willingness to nourish and foster life in all its forms.
What the idea of “thinking like a planet” also implies is that we are the planet. We are Gaia. If anything, this is what an understanding of ecology (both physical and spiritual) teaches us: that we cannot separate ourselves from the web of interconnectedness and interdependency that makes up the web of planetary life. We simply cannot affect one part of our world without affecting in some manner all other parts, including ourselves. Some of these consequences, as we are learning, can be disastrous. It is in our best interests to learn to think in terms of the whole system of which we are one part.
We are Gaia, so let us think as Gaia.
This is what Gaianeering is all about. It is learning to think and act as if we are not only our human selves but an embodiment of the spirit of the Earth as well. As our power to affect the planet as a whole has grown exponentially over the past century, so has our need to be the spirit of Gaia—to become skilled and wise practitioners of Gaianeering—grown as well.
[If you would like more information about the Gaianeering conference this month, in which both practical and theoretical aspects of this theme will be explored, you will find it on Lorian’s website here.]
From July 8-15, join Rue Hass for Imagination, Shapeshifting and Loving the World. In this week-long Lorian Discovery class, you will engage in activities to help you understand the spirit of your own imagination, our human imagination and the imagination of the earth. Click here for more information and to register.
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
DAVID’S DESK #121 – THANK YOU
This essay starts my eleventh year of writing David’s Desk. When I started, George W. Bush had one year yet to go on his second term as President. Obama had been a United States Senator for two years and was starting to organize his Presidential campaign, though he was hardly a blip on anyone’s radar. Hillary Clinton was the favorite for being the Democratic nominee the following year.
Here’s another incredible thought. David’s Desk is the same age as the iPhone. It was introduced to the world and put on sale the same year as I began writing these essays. Seems like a lifetime ago, so ubiquitous and important have smartphones become in our lives.
Time, as they say, marches on.
What has been constant through all the changes of the past ten years has been your support. For this, I thank you.
It has been an honor knowing that these little essays are going to be part of your life each month, hopefully providing inspiration and helpful ways of looking at things. As it says in the prologue, it’s my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey, and I do so as a companion sharing that same journey.
Some months the ideas flow easily and quickly. I know exactly what I’d like to share with you and how to do so. Other months, I stare at my computer screen on and off for hours, even days, and wonder if I’ll ever have anything useful to say again. Frustrated when the ideas and words don’t come, I’ll think, “Why did I ever start doing this?” But then I think about you, dear reader, and what a privilege it is to share a few minutes of your time each month with the possibility and the hope of offering something that will at least bring a smile.
So again, thank you for your support and for giving me the opportunity to do this.
Much of my daily work involves writing about Incarnational Spirituality and about the interactions with the non-physical or “subtle” dimensions of life in service to the emergence of greater wholeness in our world. Most people would probably think of this work as “esoteric,” though for me it is perfectly normal and ordinary. In fact, conveying this sense of normality in dealing with the subtle worlds is a major objective of mine.
When it comes to writing these essays, though, I decided to refrain from discussing esoteric matters and to focus instead on the intersection of spirituality with our ordinary, everyday life. If anyone is interested in the esoteric side of things, I have written plenty of books on such matters, and I have a journal to which one may subscribe that is wholly dedicated to exploring the subtle worlds. Most people, though, are challenged (and delighted) enough with the ordinary aspects of life without worrying about non-physical realms. It’s to these people that I want David’s Desk to be relevant.
I also decided that I did not want to use these essays to warn about dangers or to raise alarms. There’s plenty in the world to be concerned and alarmed about, and there are dangers, to be sure. But many people are writing about these things. A strident urgency enters into our common discourse that can be appropriate at times but more often than not simply keeps our emotions stirred up to a fever pitch without offering resolution. We can find ourselves going through our days angry, afraid, and adversarial. For all that fear can provide a useful warning, anger can be justified and lead to positive actions, and there are things in the world to be opposed, these cannot be the mainstays of a life. They diminish our ability to be centered, calm, and collaborative. They crowd out love and hope, and they feed a desire to demonize and divide.
Consequently, I have chosen to write on topics that will give us inspiration, strength, and hope and that celebrate our generative and creative possibilities as individuals. As I say, tools for the spiritual journey.
Some months, though, when I sit down to write my David’s Desk, I feel a temptation to write to the news, to speak to events in the world as reported by the major media, on the assumption that what these reports stir up in our lives is something with which we all must deal. Part of this comes from a desire to be “relevant.” But there is more happening in our world than just what we see or hear through the filters of the six o’clock news or the morning newspaper. Politics, economics, even the changes in weather, do not define nor circumscribe the richness of our lives—at least, I hope not! Being relevant means, to me, speaking to the spirit within us and how it may emerge on a day to day basis with hope, with love, with compassion, with courage, and with resilience. This is what I will continue to address in writing these essays.
Looking back at the past decade, I am amazed at how much the world has changed and how much it is the same, presenting us with the same challenges and the same potentials. We are all more interconnected than ever with our smartphones and social media, yet we are seemingly more divided as well. We can feel just as isolated, alone, and fearful as ever. Tweeting or posting on Facebook doesn’t alleviate this in the long run. For this, we must tap the spirit within us, the spirit that transcends boundaries and draws us together in mutual humanity. We must practice the timeless art of caring for each other.
The Romans built an extensive and impressive system of roads across their empire to facilitate the movement of their legions for conquest. Yet it was these very roads that the early Christians used to spread a message of love and peace. We are building digital roads that connect more and more humans together. We will probably see this accelerate and take even more astonishing forms in the next decade. At the moment these roads are often routes for hate and fear to spread, routes for war in cyberspace, routes for lies and misinformation. But they can also be roads for a new wave of love and caring to reach out to the hearts of men and women across the globe. Initiating, spreading, nourishing that wave is within the power of each of us, if we decide to use it.
The next ten years will be….well, interesting hardly begins to cover it. Transformative is probably not too strong a word to use if the past decade is any measure. How they are transformative will depend on you, on me, on all of us, in part on what we send marching down the new roads of cyberspace as well as what we do in the real world around us. And through it all, God willing, I shall continue to offer David’s Desk to help with the journey.
These days, at least twice daily, I stop whatever I’m doing and take a moment to stand in peace. It’s a simple thing to do. It’s certainly helpful to me, and given that we’re all part of an interconnected, interdependent world, I believe it’s helpful in the larger scheme of things. I would like to invite you to join me in your own way, but more on that in a moment. First, let me describe what “standing in peace” means to me and how I go about it.
As I indicated, I experience that we live in an interconnected world; we are part of a whole planetary system in which every part has an effect on every other part. Increasingly we are learning to appreciate how important understanding this interconnected wholeness is; indeed, our survival may depend on it.
I view peace not simply as an absence of conflict but as a heightening of connections which improves the health of the whole system. It allows for an increase in clear communication, cooperation, and coherency— three qualities important to the well-being of the world. Conflict, on the other hand, frays and severs connections. There are times when this may be necessary; it is possible to form unhealthy connections that need to be broken up, like removing a growing tumor from a body through surgery. But there’s only so much surgery one can perform before the body itself dies. Much better to strengthen the whole system by improving and strengthening the healthy connections that promote harmony and collaboration.
In my experience, this is what peace does.
My purpose here in this short essay is not to delve into the metaphysics of peace and conflict; one could write a book about that! I simply want to share a practice with you that I find helpful and that I believe, given a perspective of the interconnectedness of life, is also helpful on a wider scale. When I stand in peace, I am adding to a process that improves connectedness rather than diminishing it. Given what is going on in the world today, every little bit helps!
My practice can be broken down into five steps. These are Pause, Appreciate, Presence, Embrace, and Release. Together they form an acronym that makes them easy to remember: PAPER. Here is the PAPER process:
PAUSE – The first step is to pause whatever you are doing. Be sensible about this, of course. If you are in the middle of an activity that can’t be paused, like doing surgery, then wait until you’re finished. But all of us have moments during the day when we can stop what we’re doing and just pause, becoming inwardly still.
APPRECIATE – The second step is to look around, see where you are, whom you’re with, what you’ve been doing, and appreciate these things. I originally called this step Awareness, which is also an “A” word, but I realized that for me, it’s not just being aware of my surroundings but of how I am aware. This is where appreciation comes in. If my purpose is to stand in peace, I don’t want to be in conflict with my environment. I may not like where I am in the moment, but I can honor it and honor my being there. I can find something to appreciate, maybe even love, about where I am, and this spirit of appreciation translates into being at peace.
PRESENCE – My third step is to honor and appreciate myself, which gives me a sense of presence in the moment wherever I am. We are each a generative source of positive qualities and actions if we allow ourselves to be. We matter in the world. Who we are is important; for many of us, we are more than we give ourselves credit for being. By standing in Presence, I am affirming that I have something to offer to this environment and that I’m capable of offering it, even if I do so in silence with my spirit blessing to what’s around me. Another way of thinking about this is that through affirming my Presence and its value, I am not in conflict with myself. To stand in peace, I need to go beyond conflict with where I am (the Appreciate step) and conflict with who I am that may arise from negative self-imagery.
EMBRACE – Standing in Presence allows me to open my heart, blessing and embracing where I am, heightening my connections with my environment. Here, too, I originally used another word, Engage, for this step, but as with Awareness and Appreciation, I wanted to emphasize how I engage. Since peace for me is an active process that builds and widens connections, standing in peace means doing just that with my immediate surroundings. Embrace, for me, captures this felt sense of reaching out from my Presence with love to connect with where I am and who I’m with, thus generating peace.
RELEASE – The last step is to release the quality of peace—of heightened and harmonious connection—out into the world. I ask that those spiritual forces that hold humanity and the world in their love receive my peace and let it be wherever it is needed. I trust that what I generate in my small environment can be a seed that can grow to bless and affect much larger environments.
You will note that I don’t try to “send” peace anywhere. Projecting peace to troubled areas can become just a mental exercise; I’m “sending” an idea of peace rather than peace itself. Perhaps this may be helpful in its own way, inspiring others with that idea, but my approach is to create the experience—the felt sense—of peace and to offer the substance of this experience to the Powers That Be. To stand in peace, I want to be peace; I want to be a force for heightening connections and allowing harmony to unfold. For this to happen, I can’t just think about it. I need to do it. This is what the PAPER process is all about. It’s about generating peace into the world by doing peace and being peace in the concreteness of my surroundings.
Being and doing peace doesn’t have to mean resolving a conflict. There may be no conflict in my environment when I do the PAPER practice. But remember, peace in my definition is about fostering, heightening, and strengthening connections. This is what we do when we resolve a conflict; we create new connections that now promote harmony instead of disharmony. But I can heighten connections anytime, anywhere, around me and within me, through pausing, appreciating, being a presence, and embracing. By widening my definition of what peace does, I can see ways of doing peace in my world besides just being a “fire-fighter” putting out the flames of conflicts. I can build peace into my life and into my world that can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. Where connections are strong, communication is clear, and collaboration can emerge, the whole is benefited and conflict is avoided.
I said that I wish to invite you to PAPER the world with me. Heaven knows we need it. This is not something we have to do at the same time every day. Each of us can PAPER in our own way, in our own time. You need to discover the best way you can do this practice, making it your own. But the more of us that do stand in peace by pausing, appreciating, becoming a presence, and embracing, releasing the results into the world, the more our world will grow the connections it needs to transform the broken conditions that fill the news with stories of suffering, conflict, and danger. Be your peace and let us PAPER the Earth together.
Since my last “David’s Desk”, a friend has died at the age of 117. We’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship for the past thirty-three years, but this past year, we’d gotten close again. The death came as a shock.
What died is our local newspaper, the Issaquah Press, which first started business in 1900. It was not like the New York Time or the Washington Post, but it was the voice of the community, a common source of news about what was happening in our town and in the region. When it needed to do so, it was also a source of good investigative journalism, keeping our local politicians and developers on their toes.
We shall miss it.
The death of newspapers is all too common these days as print journalism struggles to keep up with competition from all the digital media now available. It takes attentiveness to peruse a newspaper, taking time to think about what we’re reading rather than just responding to a tweet. Not everyone is now willing to spend that time.
What struck me this past month was that the death from financial anemia of our local paper came just as there was so much discussion and concern in other media about the proliferation and impact of “fake news.” While newspapers have certainly been instruments of propaganda, and I’ve personally seen instances where reporters and editors have gotten their facts wrong or misinterpreted what is happening, on the whole newspapers have been a valuable source of accurate information. Newspapers at their best can be an antidote to fake news. When the Issaquah Press died, I thought, “Well, there’s one less resource we have for finding the truth or for being informed about the issues of our community.” There are some roles and needs that digital media just don’t fill.
Thinking about the ease by which propaganda, misinformation, fake news, and out-and-out fabrications can now be generated and distributed to millions of people through digital media every day reminds me of a friend of mine back in the late Fifties and early Sixties. She was a terrific psychic and I remember her saying to me, “David, the time is coming when people will be challenged to distinguish between truth and lies, facts and illusion, and everyone will be living in their own private bubble of information.” With the arrival and growth of cyberspace over the past three decades, I’ve been watching her prophecy come to pass.
Finding truth is always important; decisions and actions based on falsehoods or misinformation can have damaging consequences. The first step towards truth is to be open to it, even when it means changing our minds. If all we look for is information that will confirm our own beliefs and biases, then we filter out anything that threatens or contradicts those opinions, even if it’s true and what we believe is not. We need to be willing to step beyond our private bubbles of information, as my friend put it so many years ago. Discernment becomes a survival skill in a world filled with daily attempts to manipulate our consciousness to someone else’s point of view.
My criteria for separating “true news” from “fake news” or propaganda, whether from the Left or the Right, is how much the source of the information wants me to see a limited, partial point of view that will engage me emotionally and stir me to conflict of some nature. It tries to convince me, stir my emotions, and bend my thinking, with no regard to my own sovereignty. It does not want me to think for myself but to accept without question the information and perspective being handed to me.
These days, everyone wants to turn me into a follower, it seems, even very worthy causes. In some cases, I’m OK with this, but I still want to choose out of my Sovereignty to support that cause. I do not wish to be coerced because they’ve made an emotional appeal or are trying to frighten me by telling me all the awful things that are happening or that will happen if I don’t support them.
When presented with news or other information, I ask myself if it adds to my understanding and compassion, making it easier to make connection with someone different from me, or does it seek to divide me from others, creating a feeling of “us” vs “them?” Does it make me resilient and more capable in my life? Does it enable me to engage the world in a loving and hopeful way? Does it open possibilities.
There is no doubt there are frightening things happening in the world. I can understand the desire to build walls around ourselves for safety and to filter out any information that threatens us. But our safety in the future does not lie in fortresses or the mentality that creates them. It lies in how we can communicate, understand, and cooperate with each other for our mutual benefit and the benefit of the earth around us. The future belongs to the collaborators, not the separators. Fake news denies this and works to keep us separate. The good news is that we can choose otherwise.
Would you like the opportunity to meet David Spangler in his first public appearance in many years, alongside an international group of spiritual teachers and explorers? Join us on July 28-30 at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington for Gaineering: A Lorian Summer Conference. Click here for more information.
DAVIDS DESK #118 – FLYOVER STATES
Back in the days when I was regularly traveling to give lectures and workshops, I always tried to drive to wherever I needed to go. If time were an issue, then I would take a plane, but otherwise, I loved road trips. I loved seeing the various parts of the United States and getting to know my country from the ground up; after years of cross-country trips, there are only three States I’ve never had occasion to visit. The United States lives in me in my memory of all the different landscapes that I’ve seen. When I think of America, it’s all there for me, from Maine to California and from Washington to Florida.
As my family grew, my travel time diminished. I didn’t want to spend so much time on the road away from Julie and the kids. So, I began flying more. I enjoy flying, too (or I did when it was a more comfortable and less harried and crowded experience). There was a thrill to looking down and seeing countryside through which I had previously driven. Still, I missed the closeness with the land and with places and people that I experienced while driving. I had become a “flyover” person.
I don’t know when the term originated or started to become popular, but I became aware of it last year during the Presidential Election: “Flyover States.” These are the States in the middle of the country that air flights between the large urban centers of the East and West coasts regularly fly over. To be a Flyover State is at one level a simple description of a fact of life as more and more people live on the East and West coasts and take non-stop flights back and forth. But especially last year, the phrase took on additional meaning. Flyover States were the homes of the “forgotten Americans,” the ones whose opinions and activities were not as important when compared to what goes on in places like New York, Washington, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the large metropolises on either side of America. To be a “Flyover State” carried connotations of being ignored, overlooked, not seen, or even disdained as being of lesser importance. Certainly, if a person’s only view of America is from 30,000 feet, he or she is not seeing and connecting with the country in the way a person does who is driving from one coast to another.
There are commentators who describe one of the divisions in this country, of which there currently appear to be many, as that between the heavily populated and generally more liberal metropolitan areas of the Coastal States and the less populated and often more conservative Flyover States. I’m sure there’s a truth to this, and the last election would seem to confirm this, showing again the intent of the Electoral College to give political power to States with smaller populations.
However, when I think of Flyover States, it conjures up an entirely different image for me. It seems to me that one of the many challenges facing us in this country, and for that matter in the world at large, is how easy it is to step into a “flyover state.” Such a state is not a place but an attitude that can arise when we encounter someone who is different from us. This difference could be political, religious, ethnic, racial, economic, or something as trivial as a difference in hairstyles or clothing. Unless we are compelled for some reason to engage with this person, we can “flyover” them in our minds and hearts. We can fail to encounter the territory of their life; we can fail to make connection.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced this, both as the one doing the flyover and the one being “flown over” and overlooked. We all live at one time or another in our daily lives in a flyover state. The cumulative effect is that we come to know each other less and less, and spend more and more time clustered mentally and emotionally with those with whom we agree. “Flying over” pushes difference out of our lives or at least diminishes its impact. We see only what we want to see.
I believe that our hope lies in our ability to connect, and this requires that we walk into each other’s territory, at least enough to appreciate another even if we don’t agree with his or her positions and beliefs. Turning each other into flyover states will not help us going forward. The future depends on understanding. The major problems and challenges of the world are systemic and cannot be solved except through collaboration and cooperation. If we can’t go so far as to love each other, we must at least know and respect each other. This requires looking at our differences directly, up close and personal, and not dismissing or ignoring that with which we do not agree.
At this time, our country is embroiled in problems caused by our various differences. If we hope to solve them, we must work to connect and live in our hearts and minds in united states, not flyover ones.
Join Julie Spangler and Susan Sherman, with guest David Spangler, for Journey Into Fire. During this six week online class behind held on our Educational website, participants will explore their unique, human journeys and practical ways to experience the sacredness within. For more information or to sign-up, click here.
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
Some years ago, a friend of mine wrote me to tell me that I was in the Encyclopedia Britannica under the topic of the New Age. Not having a copy of the Encyclopedia, I couldn’t check it out, but the next time I visited my library, I remembered and decided to look me up. Indeed, there I was! But as I read what had been written about me, I became more and more dismayed as there were statements about events in my life or things I had said that I knew had never happened or that I had never said. I was reading about an alternative David Spangler!
I’ve had more than one experience in my life of reading things about me that are not true but which fit the writer’s preconceptions or are what the writer would like to believe. However, I didn’t expect to find this in such an august document as the Encyclopedia Britannica. I knew the scholar who had written the entry by reputation; he was well known for his alleged expertise about alternative religious and spiritual movements in the United States. What bothered me was not that he had made the errors he had but that as a scholar, he had not tried to verify his information. It wasn’t as if I were inaccessible. At the time I had an active public career and was easy to get hold of. He could have simply written or phoned me and said, “This is what I’ve been told about you. Is it accurate?” I mean, why not go directly to the source to ascertain the correctness of your “facts,” especially if that source is readily available?
Because of my training as a scientist and because I’ve been on the receiving end of misinformation and “alternative facts,” I’m sensitive to the need for good information and for sticking as closely as we can to the truth. But increasingly, we are living in a time when misinformation is more and more prevalent. The Greek poet and dramatist Aeschylus, living some five hundred years before Christ, said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Now, though, we don’t have to be at war for truth to suffer. We simply need to have an Internet in which anything can be said by anyone (usually anonymously) about anything and someone is going to take it as fact because it fits their belief system or their desire that it be true.
Back in 1959, a psychic said to me, “David, the time is coming when the astral plane will be materialized, and no one will know what to believe anymore.” The astral plane, for those not up on esoteric jargon, is a non-physical realm of thought and emotion in which reality is whatever we think or want it to be. Its other name is the “Plane of Illusion” because a person caught there loses the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood. With the advent of the Internet, social media, twitter, and the like, I would say that that psychic had been wonderfully prescient, for there is indeed an illusory, “astral” feel about the digital world in which so many of us increasingly live and function. At the very least, as many others have pointed out, it allows each of us to access information that is tailored just to what we believe and are likely to accept. We can each live in our own private digitally supported thought-world, which is precisely what the astral place is like in esoteric lore and why it is regarded as a dangerous place if one is not discerning.
I believe firmly that our hope for the future rests on our ability to communicate and collaborate with each other, giving birth to both creativity and a wider, deeper vision that is enriched by our differences. We know ecologically that monocultures—the planting of only one kind of plant in a field, such as all corn or all soy, and doing so year after year—are not resilient or sustainable when confronted with environmental change. It doesn’t take much awareness to look around and see that nature depends on diversity. So does human creativity, especially in the form of collective decision making that some are calling “crowdocracy.”
But reaching across boundaries of thought and feeling, transcending differences, and being able to talk to and cooperate with each other requires trust. When truth is compromised, when everyone has their own set of alternative facts, when there’s no information one can truly count on—or the information isolates us through how we cherry-pick what we want to know and believe—then trust suffers. Trust is broken, at which point a creative and healing collaboration becomes difficult, if not impossible.
When our leaders in all fields play fast and loose with truth and make claims that reality is what they say it is, so that disinformation is the name of the game, we are playing with fire. People have always told lies and governments especially have always been deceptive, but in a time when the Internet diffuses information in ways that create a fog of “alternative facts,” not being scrupulous with truth is like lighting a match in a room filled with gasoline vapor. The result can be an explosion of distrust that makes any kind of fruitful working together hard to come by. Given the planetary challenges that face us, we cannot afford not working together.
In esoteric lore, the astral plane lies between the physical world and the realms of spirit, the realms of love, wisdom, and wholeness. Symbolically, it’s as if one has to push through the illusions created by one’s own thinking and feeling in order to come to a place of truth. It’s a call for discernment.
We are certainly called to be discerning. But we can also bypass the “astral” and the realms of illusion and misinformation by simple acts of reaching out, connecting, listening to each other, making an effort to see truth beyond the illusions, widening our sources of information, and most of all, by learning to love each other. Love is the alternative to “alternative facts.” It allows us to build the trust we need to survive the storms of misinformation and distrust that seem to be upon us.
Join David Spangler, along with Julie Spangler and Jeremy Berg, for Recognizing the Note of Your Call– a free teleclass on Saturday, February 11, at 8am PT. Click here for more information or to register.
First and most importantly, let me wish you a very happy, prosperous, blessed, and healthy New Year as we welcome 2017 into our midst. New Year’s is always a special time filled with the promise of new possibilities. Of course, every day presents us with this same promise, but it’s more heartfelt at this time when the coming of midnight marks the passage from one year to another.There’s something about hanging up a new calendar on January 1st that adds to the drama of endings and new beginnings.
There are many traditions that mark this time of year and the celebrations of the Holidays. One that is renewed on television every year is the broadcast of the 1946 Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart and Donna Reed. This is not one of my favorite Christmas movies—it’s just a tad too preachy for me—but I have to admit that I can easily get drawn into watching it, partly because I’m a huge Jimmy Stewart fan and partly because of the power of the story. And I’m always uplifted at the end. I just hate all that I (and the hero, George Bailey) have to go through to get to it!
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the story of a man—George Bailey—who has great dreams and ambitions but at every turn sacrifices them in order to help someone else fulfill their dreams. Further, he runs a savings and loan that enables people to own their own small houses rather than having to rent homes from the movie’s villain, Henry Potter, a banker who wants to control the housing market and who is mean-spirited, greedy, selfish, and cynical about human nature. He is so bad he out-Scrooges Scrooge!
A crisis with his savings and loan drives George Bailey to the brink of suicide, feeling that his life has been worthless. But his guardian angel, Clarence, appears to show him what the world would have been like had he not lived. People whose lives had been saved by things he’d done would have died, his wife would never have married, and Bedford Falls, the town he lived in, would have become Pottersville, a dark, dreary, slum of a place. In the Bedford Falls that George Bailey helped to bring about, neighborliness, trust, cooperation, and goodwill dominated but in Pottersville, anger, distrust, selfishness, and competition were the byword.
The main point the movie makes, and none too subtly, is the difference each of us makes in shaping the world in which we live. This is an important…no, I would say, a vital idea. But there’s another theme to the movie that is inspiring my thoughts right now as I write this month’s essay. That is the power of choice.
Within each of us is the potential to be a George Bailey but also to be a Henry Potter, just as within us is the potential to create a world based on goodwill and trust or a Pottersville world. Which of these potentials comes to pass is a matter of the choices we make. George Bailey makes choices to uphold neighborliness and helpfulness, giving hope to others; Henry Potter makes choices to create hopelessness and to diminish the sovereignty and power of others so that he can be on top. George Bailey wants community. Henry Potter wants wealth.
Of course, the movie dramatizes this in stark ways. The “Bailey/Potter” choices each of us faces daily are usually far less obvious or dramatic. Do I put someone else down with a disparaging comment so that I will feel better or superior in the moment or am I encouraging and supportive in my dealing with them? Do I create a “Bedford Falls moment” or a “Pottersville” moment? Whichever I choose, the choices ripple out in people’s lives, and in the process, the archetypal Good Community is either strengthened between us or weakened, and likewise the archetypal Pottersville, which is unfortunately a lurking presence in human affairs. We build our world through our choices each moment in each encounter no matter how unimportant or undramatic the moment may seem. Which is really what Clarence the angel is trying to show George Bailey: there are no unimportant moments when it comes to crafting a life, a society, or a world.
I think this year we will be presented with many opportunities to choose between creating a “Bedford Falls” or a “Pottersville.” We always are, anyway, but it seems the world is moving in ways that highlight these two possible destinations for humankind. This makes the power of choice that we each have even more important and critical. We are shaping our future. May we shape it wonderfully.
Join David Spangler for To Protect and Defend, an Inauguration Forum from January 14-21. Like the Election Forums we held in the summer and fall of 2016, this week-long online gathering will be an opportunity to go deeply with David into an understanding of subtle activism and to blend our hearts, minds, and spirits in both individual and shared acts of blessing and Light for the out-going President Obama, for the in-coming President Trump— and most of all, for a divided citizenry. Click here for more information or to register.
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2016 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
DAVIDS DESK #115 – TIS THE SEASON
The night after Thanksgiving, I walked into our dark bedroom and was struck by a vision I had forgotten about. Our bedroom is on the second floor of our house and looks out over the neighborhood, a view more open at the moment as our maple trees have shed their leaves. Two blocks away in a cul-de-sac, a house was glowing with tiny white Christmas lights and on its lawn, a tree had been trimmed in multi-colored lights.
Every year, these neighbors are among the first to put out their Christmas lights, always on Black Friday, which seems rather appropriate and symbolic. They are always the first house we can see from our windows that is decorated. Walking into our bedroom and seeing the house lit up, as if hundreds of little stars had descended from heaven to outline it in light, has for years now been a signal for me that Christmas time, Solstice time, Holiday time is upon us.
In dealing with the aftermath of the Presidential election, in addition to hosting the Thanksgiving holiday for beloved family members whom we had not seen for some years, I had forgotten all about this ritual. So when I saw the house lit up in its otherwise dark corner of the neighborhood, it struck me like a welcome visitation from Heaven. I could feel tensions in my body that I hadn’t even consciously recognized I had suddenly relax. It was more than just greeting an old friend. It was as if order had been restored to my universe.
Seeing my neighbor’s house lit up reminded me that there is more to the world than mulling over the pros and cons of the new Administration. This is the time of hope celebrated for thousands of years in the Northern Hemisphere as the moment when light (and Light) returns to the earth. This is the season of the Solstice. Winter begins to give way to spring and to new life as the days grow longer and the nights shorter.
This is a time when we acknowledge that we all journey through dark places in our lives but if we reach out to each other in loving fellowship, we can bring the Light back. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, if you can be, or if not, then at least open to the potential of new life and new possibilities. If nothing else, this time of year can remind us there are things to look forward to and much to be grateful for.
I get up early most mornings to write. It’s a time when the world is calm and peaceful, and my thoughts flow more easily. Given that it’s December, it’s also very dark as I move quietly through the house so as not to wake up anyone else. Glancing out the window, I see that my neighbor’s house is dark, too. The lights are on a timer and switch off sometime in the wee hours. But the tree on their lawn is shining as brightly as ever. It’s such an old symbol, almost a cliché: the Light shining in the darkness. It’s wonderfully reassuring, nonetheless. It touches something primal in me, something below the level of rational thought. The world may seem dark, but the Light is still there.
This Holiday season, half the country is rejoicing and half the country is in mourning. It will take time and effort for the divisions created over the past year to heal; it will only happen if we are able to truly listen to each other and hold each other in loving respect in spite of or even because of our differences. Even more, many of our fellow citizens are filled with fear over what lies ahead. How can we comfort them? Comfort each other?
The times are challenging, and not simply because of the Election. The world is going through difficult and dangerous times. Fear is everywhere, a darkening force. Now more than ever, we need to find ways we each can “light a tree” in ourselves and bring back the Light for each other, a Light of hope, of love, of confidence, of collaboration, of neighborliness. It may seem difficult right now, but it is the Season for it.
On Thursday, December 1, please join David Spangler for a Virtual Event— Healing our Divided World— hosted by David Nicol, director and co-founder of the Gaifield Project, on the Global Shift Network. Click here for more information.
Please consider supporting Hope and Wholeness in the world by making a tax-deductible donation to The Lorian Association. Click on Support Lorian to donate online. Or you may mail a check to Lorian Association, PO Box 1368, Issaquah, WA 98027. Thank you for standing with us.