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A talk which I gave at the fourth Cosmology of Love conference at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco on April 14, 2012.

The Ecology of Justice: Transforming the victim/perpetrator paradigm

The cosmos is profoundly and fundamentally relational and the beauty of justice can perhaps be described in the symmetry of reciprocity, its loops and curves seeking to connect all beings and strike a dynamic balance. Balance does not reflect a static state, and so it is with reciprocity, the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. Reciprocity is a process requiring our attention, our presence, our care and tending.

That we are all different from each other is a given. Where or how we intersect is quite another matter. Could our notions of and practice of justice reflect whether we perceive our differences as alienation or as an opportunity for communion? The unified field is broken—can we see only its dividing aspect and not its relational aspect?

Together we will explore a perspective on justice akin to philosopher Cornel West's view that "justice is what love looks like in public."

Link to The Ecology of Justice on YouTube

**Note that this journal is in transition. Stay tuned for a new blog at  Lunapoiesis coming in September 2012!**

I would like to present an essay I wrote, setting forth Joanna Macy's concept of  "The Great Turning," which refers to the conscious, human choice of turning away from destructive empire and life-negating ways of being, towards Earth community and life-affirming ways of being in relation to Self and planet. 

After presenting Macy's concept, the next section addresses "A Turning More Personal," in which I attempt to articulate my own social and political organizing activities within the framework of The Great Turning, with a view to illuminating the interconnections between the three "different" dimensions of activity or intention represented by the concept. 

I then explore the theme of "The Personal Is the Political," and delve into how my own personal exploration and re-discovery (or perhaps recovery) might be reflected within the collective.  Since my primary interests fall within the realm of cosmology (aka poetry), I explore Richard Tarnas' thesis of "the double bind of modern consciousness," which he uses to illustrate the psychological ramifications of the modern, disenchanted worldview of alienation and separation.  I also ponder the curious fact that in a Universe such as ours, which is characterized by mutual causality (mutual co-arising), the means are the ends, and ask what might that mean for the evolutionary potential of our species and its social organization?

I conclude that the old organizing mythology of the industrialized world will collapse, indeed it is collapsing as its failures mount up in the form of crises all around the planet.  What will fill the vacuum of power and meaning, left in the wake of the collapse of the modern, industrialized worldview?  Towards this endeavor, I explore the theme of "History As A Metaphysical Problem" in the final section.

The chambers of my heart echo the French poet Paul Val
éry's lament that, for an artist, no piece is ever really completed, only abandoned.  And so I abandon this unfinished piece of writing on an old blog, that others might take inspiration perhaps....

There’s No Salvation from the Myth of Salvation

Foundations of the Great Turning, Antioch University Seattle

February 26, 2008

The Great Turning

The Great Turning is a concept which Joanna Macy helped to develop over her thirty years of social and environmental activism, which seeks to describe the conscious human choice to “choose life [which] means to build a life-sustaining society,” defined as “’one that satisfies its needs without jeopardizing the prospects of future generations.’” (Macy & Brown, 1998).  The need to develop a life-sustaining society emerges from the modern, industrialized way of life, which Norwegian ecophilosopher Sigmund Kwaloy named the Industrial Growth Society.  While acknowledging the positive aspects of the unprecedented powers wrought by our highly technologized culture, Macy and Brown (1998) highlight the fact that

…[W]e witness destruction of life in dimensions that confronted no previous generation in recorded history.  Certainly our ancestors knew wars, plagues, and famine; entire civilizations, such as Phoenicia and Imperial Rome, foundered when they cut down their trees for warships and turned their lands to desert.  But today it is not just a forest here and some farmlands and fisheries there; today entire species are dying—and whole cultures, and ecosystems on a global scale, even to the oxygen-producing plankton of our seas (p. 15). 

The Industrial Growth Society hinges on an “economy [that] depends on ever-increasing consumption of resources.  To maintain its engines of progress, Earth is both supply-house and sewer” (p. 16).



"This is what is the matter with us: we are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars. Love has become a grinning mockery because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the Tree of Life and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table."
 --D.H. Lawrence


"If only there were evil people somewhere else insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were simply necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
--Alexander Sozhenitsyn


"All theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever green."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


"If one had to name one quality as the genius of the patriarchy, it would be compartmentalization, the capacity for institutionalizing disconnection. Intellect severed from emotion. Thought separated from action. Science split from art. The earth itself divided; national borders. Human beings categorized by sex, age, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, height, weight, class, religion, physical ability, ad nauseum. The personal isolated from the political. Sex divorced from love. The material ruptured from the spiritual. The past parted from the present and disjoined from the future. Law detached from justice. Vision dissociated from reality."
  --Robin Morgan

Chickpea to Cook

with deepest Love and affection to the Neptune Society....

~~ This Being Human is the prostration of Desire ~~

Chickpea to Cook

A chickpea in a pot leaps from the flame,
out from the boiling water,
Crying, "Why do you set fire to me?
You chose me, bought me, brought me home for this?"
The cook hits it with her spoon into the pot.
"No! Boil nicely, don't jump away from the one who makes the fire.
I don't boil you out of hatred.
Through boiling you may grow flavorful, nourishing,
and united with vital human spirit.
I don't inflict this suffering out of spite.
Once green and fresh, you drank rain in the garden;
you drank for the sake of this fire.

God's mercy precedes His wrath;
by God's mercy the sick ones suffer.
It has always been so; this is how God creates all that exists.
Without pleasure, no creatures would come into being.
Without creatures,
what could the burning love of the Friend consume?
Such sorrow may come that you might wish
to be free of this life.
yet the Grace of God will overtake His wrath,
once you are washed clean in the river of suffering.

Chickpea, you fed in the springtime;
now pain has become your guest.
Entertain him well, that he may return home grateful,
and speak of your generosity to the King.
Instead of your vision of good fortune,
the One Who Bestows Favor may come to you;
then all true blessings may be drawn to you.

Just as Abraham commanded his son:
'Lay your head before my knife
I see in a dream that I must sacrifice you,'
lay your head before God's knife,
that He may cut your throat like that of Ishmael.
He may cut off your head,
but only the one that is immune to death.
Such submission is the fulfillment of God's purpose
— seek this submission.

Chickpea, continue to boil in suffering,
so that no self may remain in you.
Though once you laughed in the garden of earth,
you now are the rose of the garden of spirit,
you now are the eye of spirit.
Once you are torn from the garden of water and earth,
you may become food, and thereby enter the living world.
Become nourishment, strength and thought!
Once you were sap; now become a lion in the jungle!

You were born from God's attributes;
return eagerly to them.
You came from the cloud and the sun and sky,
then scattered and ascended to heaven.
You came as rain and heat;
you will return into the Divine attributes.
You were part of the sun and the cloud and the stars.
You became soul and action and speech and thoughts.

Our victory after the checkmate of death
gives truth to the words,
'Verily, in being slain there is life.'
Action, speech and sincerity become food for angels;
they climb this ladder to heaven.
A morsel of food becomes food for humanity,
rises from its inanimate state and obtains a soul.

The caravan of spirit travels constantly between earth and heaven.
Join it gladly and freely,
not bitterly and full of hatred, like a thief.
I speak bitter words to you so you may be washed clean of bitterness.
The frozen grape thaws in the cold water
and leaves its coldness and hardness behind.
When you endure bitterness,
your heart will fill with blood like the grape,
and you will be freed from all bitterness.
A dog not kept for hunting wears no collar;
the raw and unboiled are nothing but insipid."

The chickpea speaks, "If this is so, then help me to boil!
By this boiling you elevate me.
Hit me with the spoon; delight me!
Like the elephant, strike me and brand my head,
that I may not dream of the gardens of Hindustan.
Let me gladly submit to this boiling
that I may be embraced by the Beloved.
Men and women, imagining themselves free,
grow insolent and hostile, like the dreaming elephant.
When the elephant dreams of Hindustan,
he disobeys the driver and becomes vicious."

The cook says, "I was once like you, part of the earth.
I drank the fire of self-discipline, fasting and prayer,
and became worthy and acceptable to God.
I boiled long in the world of time, and long in the pot of this body.
From these boilings I grew capable of strengthening the senses;
I became animal spirit, and then became your teacher.
While inanimate, I said to myself,
'You are running about in agitation
so that you might be filled with knowledge
and the qualities of spirit.'
Now that I have become animal spirit,
let me boil again and pass beyond that state."

Pray unceasingly to God that you might not be misled by these words,
and that you might arrive at your journey's end.
For many have been misled by the Qur'an;
by clinging to the rope of words, many have fallen into the well.
The rope is faultless, O perverse ones —
it is you who lack desire to reach the top.



At the laundromat

One night,
I got to be the crazy lady at the laundromat
Wearing a bright pink
and yellow
and yellow rubber
struggling to open the giant yard and leaf waste
garbage bag
filled to its 39 lbs. capacity
stooping to sort,
the clothes haphazardly
like she was on
cannabis chocolate.
Maybe (just maybe)
someone there
could relate
to the madness of it all



“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 --Maya Angelou

(thanks, Preston :)


"It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world"
 --Oscar Wilde