A scroll through authentic news outlets is an intense confrontation with a planet in crisis. Like: As Alaska Burns, Anchorage Sets New Records for Heat & Lack of Snow / Corporate Capitalism is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State / Greek Voters Deliver Stunning Rebuke to Austerity / Mass Extinction: It’s the End of the World as We Know It. Here is something else from the fringe news, fast moving to central awareness, for reality atune-ment (atonement.)
From Her Body….by artist Nona Faustine, who says, “New York has a reputation for being a melting pot, but it also has a strong history of slave trading.” Her photo series, “White Shoes,” calls attention to that history and its enduring legacy. Here is something else for our history lesson, The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes. You can click on one of the multitude of dots as they fly from Africa toward the Americas and West Indies, and it will show the ships name and flag, (always the flags), and numbers of African slaves on board. The post summarizes, “By the conclusion of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at the end of the 19th century, Europeans had enslaved and transported more than 12.5 million Africans. At least 2 million, historians estimate, didn’t survive the journey.”
Those grand old stately homes we use in Europe for Buddhist retreats; well, just know that we sit in the midst of slave supported comfort… think of that from time to time with each mindful breath of loving kindness. I think of it a lot in South Africa, for obvious reasons, as I move within a country built on the back of black servitude. It’s none too comfortable… I breathe with it and the layerings of deflecting thoughts and reactions, some of which I scribe here. I think of origins when in the USA; to be honest, more recently than when I first arrived in Tennessee in 1992. My fast learning curve, through the layerings, began in 2008 when invited to co-facilitate the consciously diverse CDL4 at Spirit Rock.
To un-peel the layers of what has gone before is part of our awakening curriculum. Because the truth is, what has gone before is woven deeply into what is here right now. I originally thought awakening is to let go of everything from before. But it seems we can’t let go, or really move to a more hopeful future, until we honour a woman, with ill fitting white shoes, standing naked in the middle of Wall Street, attracting our attention to all that such an extraordinary, human art, activism statement, represents.
Her Body, the body of Africa, India, Asia, aboriginal Australia and New Zealand – and where people of color were colonized for profit – is now the Earth’s body, plundered to the point of, “you have 20 – 30 years to sort this out – dear human species – otherwise write your last testament, but don’t worry about the will, there’ll be no point.“**
So money… empire…..accumulated wealth from Her Body, and… warp speed on a planet burning to a crisp…into a Greek OXI… the Mother of Democracy says absolutely NO.
NO to… well, pretty much everything it seems, because underlying all human life is the ability to share in our collective resources by means of flighty pieces of paper and lumps of metal, stamped with faces and numbers. That’s fine if you have vaults of money, but a country tyrannized by un-payable debt, an extreme austerity program, and relinquishment of its sovereignty to a remote governing system, is bound to finally revolt. Is this the beginning of a debt unraveling? Because all nation states are now pegged to an unreal debt based economy, which consistently punishes the poor.
It’s all pretty complicated, but the sight of the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, after delivering some stunning statements, (I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride), driving off into the sunset on his motorbike, peeks the human spirit. It is just what we all feel; even as EU “suits” cry foul, we root for the guy who kicks ass. Because we know what is really foul; the hijacking of our democracies and rights to a sustainable world by unethical politicians, oligarchs, media barons, banking institutions, wall streeters on crack, and psychopathic corporate agendas.
So, in brief… revolution is the next part of our awakening curriculum, dear friends. This agenda has always been coded into our DNA, because underneath the layerings, which are many, is the reality of a seamless world, divided only by the human propensity for delusion, fear and greed. The veils can part, from such an afflicted history, when we allow ourselves to touch into the truth the Buddha spoke, vimutti sara sabbe dhamma,** “Freedom is the essence of every circumstance.” This is because we are not just the money we have (or more often, don’t have), the job we do, the country we live in, or the color of our skin. Our human spirits will ultimately revolt against injustice and inequity, whether for ourselves or for others, as the truth is we are profoundly inter-woven with each other, and with all life. We are all present in each others awareness.
Thomas Piketty, since writing Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is considered one of the most influential economists in the world. In his enlightening interview with Die Zeit, he challenges the view that Germany and France have behaved better than Greece when it comes to paying off debts. “Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations,” Piketty states.
Piketty calls for a “conference on all Europe’s debt.” But perhaps we need a conference on Global debt. We need to ask what debt is really owed, and to whom. If we consider the foundations of our current capitalist wealth, then, from Her Earth, Enslaved and Genocided Peoples, Killed in Colonial Wars, Body”… then the debt discussion moves from Euros and Dollars to the bodies of billions and the body of our magnificent and abundant Earth.
May we weep for the loss, the terror, the pain, the abuse…may we deeply feel what our lives are built on. May we take the word debt from its power play dynamic, and shift it into acts of recognition, atonement, sharing, redemption, and passionate, careful love.
* “The window of opportunity is closing: we have at best only 20 or 30 years left to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent; even better to arrive at 100 percent reduction by 2040.” Bhikkhu Bodhi, Simple and Practical Steps for Mitigating Climate Change.
** A line from the Mula Sutta – ANLV111
When the last tree is cut, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught, then we will find out that we can’t eat money. Cree Prophecy –