Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starting a "Conversation" with Dylan Ratigan

Since I have been back in Santa Barbara, I find myself getting up fairly early in the morning and going straight to my iPad. In this way, my mind is most engaged when it is "fresh".  Of late it seems Dylan Ratigan is getting up even earlier than me and he is now posting something to his page every day, and I'm starting to recognize something of a discipline there, something that I would like to emulate.  But it is a little annoying in that I keep finding myself in a "responsive" mode; i.e. I keep finding myself wanting to "respond" to what he has already posted for the day rather than (at least at this point) initiating the dialogue myself. Admittedly, there is kind of a masculine/feminine dynamic there with which I am completely familiar; i.e. the masculine as more "initiatory" and the feminine as more "responsive", but to the degree that I have been "initiating" much more of the course of my life and thoughts in the last two years, I'm not sure I like being in this more "responsive" mode, but, that seems to be the way it is, so I'm just going to go with it.

Today Dylan shared a video of his talk to "The Zeitgeist Movment" in San Diego.  For a guy who comes across as very rational and grounded, I was kind of surprised when he started talking about quantum mechanics and, lets call it, human harmonics; i.e. how our thoughts and feelings resonate out into the world and manifest the world around us. He begins to explain his consideration of all of this around the 6:20 mark. At around the 7:25 mark he shares his realization that "the rate of vibration dictates what manifests", and further at 9:30 "it is our internal rate of vibration that dictates the external reflection, not the external reflection that dictates the internal."

This brings to mind one of the primary Wisdom-Teachings of Adi Da Samraj (with which I am very familiar): You never "communicate" anything but your actual state of being. And, as Dylan goes on to say, he found himself empowered by the idea that he could control that "vibration" within himself rather than feeling at the mercy of the often seemingly overwhelming forces around him.

I would offer, from more of Adi Da's Wisdom-Teaching the idea that the "ego" is an "Activity of Self-Contraction", which Adi Da illustrates with the clinching of a fist. It is most often experienced emotionally as fear, sorrow, anger, and un-happiness; all re-active rather than pro-active emotions. One of Adi Da's most important demands of His devotees was to Become Responsible for this habit of "self-contraction" of "reactivity", and to learn to transcend it through various meditational and relational disciplines. From my own now 16 years of "practice", I know that it is I who am choosing what I am thinking and feeling in response to what I experience externally, and I have, in most instances, learned to transcend my "reactivity" and, therefore, to "self-modulate" the "frequency" of that experience and therefore what I "project" into the world. I'm glad to see that Dylan has assumed responsibility for this within himself as well and that he is using the opportunities he has to share the concept with others so that they might also become empowered as he has been.

At the "NAPF Evening for Peace" event recently, someone asked me how I stayed "grounded" - and it made me pause, because it was hard to say that it could be attributed to any one thing.  Besides the Wisdom-Teaching of Adi Da Samraj, especially addressing "the ego as the activity of 'self-contraction'" and the need to transcend the habit of reactivity, there was probably one other book that had the most significant impact in this area and that would be The New Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis. I have an extended quote in this blog On Loving Yourself . I was reading The New Guide to Rational Living in the early 90's with Adi Da's work crossing my path starting in the late 90's, and I guess you could say I have been "practicing" ever since! And now, it seems, there are others like Dylan Ratigan who are also starting to pick up on these basic principles, which is very heartening to see.

At 16:50 Dylan begins a commentary on the military that really struck home and it is something that I  have seen/heard Stefan Molyneux butt his head against over and over again, even in one of the most recent live Sunday shows I was able to listen to.  I feel this particular point deserves a very direct quotation. In referring to the military Dylan says:

"We have pre-identified the 1% of our population that has a predisposition to do things that are way more fucked-up than most people are willing to do [including sacrificing their own lives], and that's a good thing to know about a group of people because that means that that group of people may be willing to do a lot of things in our own domestic society, like decide to build a bunch of hydroponic organic greenhouses in every city in America, or decide to convert every city in America to a sustainable energy matrix...[etc.]"

Or, I will add, write a series of books on "Waging Peace" like Paul K. Chappell, or ride their bicycle and 230 pounds of gear cross-country "Pedaling for Peace" like yours truly!

At around 21:47, Dylan starts to address another subject that is close to my heart: archetypes and mythology.  He speaks of the "Mythology of Power" and how that is portrayed in popular media and culture.  When we (or our children) see these mythologies portrayed to us, they offer to us focal points for our own identification and aspiration. I know I have communicated this somewhere, but I'm having trouble finding a reference right now. Nevertheless, given the influence of these "stories" in our lives, I too have come to the conclusion that we need to consider writing different stories. 

For instance, why do we have these stories of human beings as fundamentally "sinful"?  I've tried to address that question in one of my most recent Blue Moon Turtle blogs, "What Is So 'Imperfect' about Being Human?". Another "story" that I would like to re-write is the one about how a lone crazy scientist, Zefram Cochrane, in creating and testing a ship with warp-drive, finally brought us to the attention of an advanced, and Peaceful, alien race (as portrayed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation movie, First Contact.) For anyone who might have paid attention to the landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover...that was by no means a "solo effort"!  And why shouldn't our cultural advancement be even more important to the interest of another extraterrestrial race rather than just some technological advancement? (My current theory is that we will not be able to get human beings beyond the moon anyway if we don't learn to manage our global resources, including intellectual resources, more cooperatively and, therefore, more efficiently. Furthermore, it is inherently hard to make that kind of progress when repeated armed conflicts keep destroying the basic technological infrastructure of a society as well as the potential intellectual capital stored within every human being that is traumatized or killed in the process!)

At 23:20 Dylan begins to draw a diagram, illustrating a trajectory of "possibility", relative to current "reality" and overcoming the "gap" between the two that is mediated by "fear".  He points out that "reality" is changing more slowly in part because people are living longer; i.e. it takes longer for change to take place as new generations arise in the wake of the older generations passing away.  However, he also offers that our current technological capacity, albeit a double-edged knife, has as much power to help resolve the problems we face as it may be contributing to creating and/or perpetuating them, and it is moving faster than the older generations and "reality" can keep up.

It is at the 26:00 mark that Dylan offers what I think is a Very Critical Insight: There is no way to address the "fear gap" between current reality and actual possibility with what he calls a "linear solution". Instead, he offers an "asymmetrical solution" and that involves changing the Myths that are guiding individuals and the culture rather than trying to directly change the people and the culture itself.  And although I have had the same intuition on my own fairly recently, I have to give him credit for tying all of that into a well-defined framework.

Finally, at 28:15 Dylan begins to offer more specifics as to How to Change the Power Myths, and this is where it again becomes much more personal for me and my work as well as the work of  Paul K. Chappell. As Dylan points out:

"When you think about myths and power, it is always better to meet the audience where they are. In other words, it is easier to take an existing myth and meet the audience where they are with that myth, and then take them on a journey with that story, that hero, than it is to invent a new myth, that you wish everybody would believe in, but they're just not there....In this country, for better or worse, we have mythologized our military and our soldiers, and our marines - for better or worse, it doesn't matter.  The opportunity is to meet that mythology where it is.... The fact [is] that [some of] our marines and our soldiers have already decided...[as these people here have done] to meet the audience where they are...with the myth, and take them on a journey to this location [of new possibility]. They alone will never get us to that location, but they can take that mythology and project it back into our society in a way that will naturally manifest that."

He goes on to say that each of us are, in effect, our own story, our own myth, for at least one and probably for many, many other people around us, even if we do not know it.

"You are a story. And that story is the most powerful thing that you actually have to contribute to this world, because it is as those stories are told that the generations around us will decide that they want to be like those stories. And the greatest thing we can actually do is to create stories that are in the arc that we want to go in."

And I agree with that!

Thank you Dylan Ratigan, for sharing your insights and Your Story with the rest of us, and thank you for the renewed inspiration for me to continue manifesting and telling My Story as well!

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