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Reality & Consciousness

“R

eality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality…

…No matter how complex our instruments may be, no matter how sophisticated and subtle our theories and calculations, it’s still our consciousness that finally interprets our observations. And it does so according to its knowledge and conception of the event under consideration. It’s impossible to separate the way consciousness works from the conclusions it makes about an observation. The various aspects that we make out in a phenomenon are determined not only by how we observe, but also by the concepts that we project onto the phenomenon in question.” – David Bohm

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05 Oct / MERELY BY BEING

MERELY BY BEING

O

ne reason #ImWithHer in this election is because earlier in life I might have agreed with the transcendent view that “to choose between two evils is to participate in corruption.” Putting aside the complications of assigning Satan’s ethos to a human being, I came to realize that to opt-out of corruption entirely is to opt-out of living; and that there exists a need to hold space for our outrage so that we may go on with the corrupt business of being…

Merely by being born, I perpetuate the patriarchy.
My work is to dismantle the patriarchy,
but I cannot be immune from its grasp on me.

Merely by being a white male, I perpetuate
systemic racism by benefitting from its sweep.
My work is to dismantle the systems my ancestors built,
but I cannot deny my accountability.

Merely by being an active citizen, I contribute to
overpopulation and climate pollution.
My work is to create a clean, equitable economy,
but I cannot exact a carbon price on my enduring mobility.

Merely by loving and moving to Portland, I’ve contributed to
its gentrification and overcrowding.
My work is to create a harmonious society,
but I cannot reject my role in its divisions.

Merely by getting drunk and eating Taco Bell last Saturday,
Uh huh.

MERELY BY BEING we are given NO choice but to
accept the world we were born into.

But this fatalist frame is unnecessary
in light of its mirror overtone:

MERELY BY BEING we are given EVERY choice to
accept radical responsibility toward a brighter future.

Our work isn’t to figure out how to *not* participate in corruption. That search is futile.
Our work is to feel into how we might contribute to its healing, and to our awakening.

Our work is the petulant balancing act of honoring the legacy of our ancestors while advancing our own karmic place in progress.

How’s your balance?

– Danny/TL&TW/October 5, 2016

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On Political Idealism, On Earth.

I

f you’ve ever tried to interpret your dreams upon waking, you know that it takes a delicate touch or strange, detached patience to manifest in life what has suddenly been revealed to you as urgent.

Idealism. Idealism is the juice of dreams. The archetypal plum. Without it we’d be empty of its virtuous concentrate: possibility. But idealism can’t thrive in its raw form when applied in daily life on Earth. It must be trudged through, leaped for — wrestled to the ground in reluctant ecstasy, and fixed upon like gold-toasted marshmallows.

Idealism untamed isn’t idealism as we know it — not at all. Without it we’d be lost forever, yes. But swallowed whole, idealism is a mirage disappearing into its own horizon. It’s there where idealism turns from the antidote to corruption or cynicism and reemerges as its very accomplice.

At once we’re physical bodies living in consciousness. That means the loftiness we project is ours to carry — our own slice of karma to live. Ours is a reality borne of Earth’s limitations & Sky’s eternity alike — not cosmic justice alone.

We manifest our dreams by living *through* our aspirations — not by leaning against them. We weed our apathy and illusions from takeover not by living as though things already function properly, but with the foresight that purity we long for can be achieved only in human proportion and with human results.

This is in fact a *celebration* of human idealism, not a haughty retreat from its drudgery. This is no settlement with lesser evil, either. This is the acknowledgment of good and evil’s primordial coexistence. They’re not *Hillary’s* feet we must hold to the fire so much as our own penchant for discernment, tenaciousness and unity.

This is the grounding of our faith. This is the necessary acceptance of our own personal responsibility through the screen of a gray fortune.

#ImWithBernie #ImWithHer #ImWithJillInTheoryButNotInPractice.

– Danny/TL&TW/September 28, 2016

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How We’re All Politicians

I

have an important message to share about my experience in politics. [Editor’s note: I worked for 2 years at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) during President Obama’s first term.]

One’s survival as a political appointee — Democrats and Republicans alike — largely depends on how brightly strategic you can be in whatever office you’re working. The very nature of our system is to incentivize behaviors that create a leading edge for whatever side you’re on. As such, the perverse outcomes that surface eventually start to look predictable and nonpartisan.

Speaking very generally, political corruption is less anyone’s “fault” than it is the fault of a system designed to invite cunningness over the best in people. It’s a system designed to abate personal responsibility and incite blame in its place. We deserve to be angry about corruption in politics. It’s how we harness our anger that counts. It’s how we harness our anger that could really change everything.

Take this example from The New York Times of a Republican lobbyist scheming — in a recently disclosed email — about a very close election in Wisconsin:

“Do we need to start [falsely] messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number?
I obviously think we should.”

This behavior is abhorrent no matter how we cut it. And yet, in the lobbyist’s view, he’s just doing his job and damn well at it. Gaming the system is only problematic when you’re caught — that’s part of the game, too.

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” — Stanislaw Jerezy Lec

It’s time to stop pretending. Real change comes by shining light on our individual and collective shadow. As we internally take full responsibility for our external environment — seeing ourselves as a creator in this world and not its victim — suddenly our ideas about guilt become those of collaboration. And as we own our collusion with the current system, politicians will have no choice but to do the same. This is nothing short of a paradigm shift and it’s on the tip of our tongues if we’d only accept its reach.

I’ve worked in politics and conscious leadership and have begun to learn what it means to own my shadow myself. Through this work I’ve learned to find compassion for ALL those working within a system — because we’re all ultimately conspirators of the same game.

Having compassion doesn’t equate to letting anyone off the hook for their transgressions. In fact compassion lends itself to a greater understanding of their predicament so that justice can be served with clear eyes rather than a pointed finger. Paired with taking responsibility, compassion is bridging our old world to the new.

The hard part — beyond imparting this understanding for all who care to listen — is converting our impulse for blame to the co-creation of the *next* system: A system designed to feed the very best in people. A system incentivizing radical personal responsibility to the point that it becomes obvious. It’s the only way I see in transcending an everlasting blame-game.

It’s at once incremental and revolutionary.

Let’s do it together.

– Danny/TL&TW/September 26, 2016

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On Presence & Self-Love.

I

f “How to be Present” were the title of this season in my life, then “Learning to Love Myself” would be its subheading. Sometimes I attempt to figuratively swap title-placement, until those moments arrive when I *can’t* Love Myself. Then the only thing left to do is again be Present with the fraud who I often feel myself to be.

This high form of Presence offers a blunt confirmation of this truth: there exists no plateau to which I can climb that will bear the fruit of my everlasting-contentment. (And to think I’d been holding my breath all this time).

This whole thing is a wave. To even try and reduce life to a hackable, knowable “thing” is deserving of an earnest and maniacal belly laugh. I *don’t have to love it to ride it, but I *do* have to *want to ride it to learn how to love it. It’s in this greater sense that choosing love in our every action is at once the choice of the idealist and the cynic. For the idealist, we choose love because it’s what we aspire to. For the cynic, we choose love because, against all odds, it’s revealed as the only course to progress.

In spite of our defense’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, a withholding of love in any context cannot be part of a rational argument for or against anything. Our barrier against love, across the board, is a powerful storm of branded fear, grief and anger spilling out only where the contours of our personalities will allow. It’s at this stage where we employ our intellect to construct “reasons” for “feelings” that were never designed to be at the behest of logic to begin with.

Incredibly, as it turns out, when we give ourselves and each other permission to express our deepest vulnerabilities—when we wear this as a kind of invitation on our sleeves—all energies can be harnessed for the purposes of love. It’s only then when we’ll create the world that we otherwise busy ourselves with lamenting we aren’t powerful enough to create. Oh but we ARE <3

– Danny/TL&TW/December 17, 2015

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Performing vs. Sharing

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realized this past week that although I’m naturally animated, I’ve been hiding from “performing” for most of my life because the word activates my own ego, fear, and judgment. A call for me to make a subtle shift from the act of “performing” to “sharing” is already proving to be a powerful lesson to internalize.

Sharing, no matter the stage, means opening ourselves to our deep well of authenticity that’s spoken from our own special corner in the collective unconscious. We *all* have a unique, valuable perspective by mere virtue of the fact that we’re all individuals playing in this larger field. It’s a matter of our choosing and learning how to tap into what it is our soul longs to say—and discovering through what medium our heart aches to be expressed.

Sharing—in contrast to the connotations of performing—carries with it no hint of judgment lest we actively choose to attach one. Sharing elicits in our spirits the imperative to shine in the crisp air of openness and inclusivity. Sharing is how you can tell the difference between a poor actor and a brilliant one: one’s bluffing and the other is experiencing.

If we’re going to heal our world, which I’d wager we are all working to do in our own ways, perhaps it can help us to see ourselves not as performers but as worthy spokespeople for our own unique and valuable experiences. The moment you hint to someone in any context that there’s no place for their voice, you’re perpetuating the very violence that you might presume to be abating.

Yes, let us encourage sharing even of the “morons.” Because when the “morons” share, they reflect back to us our own arrogance and penchant for shallowness that we implicitly pretend has a place in progress. Healing will come by the price of our own surrender to not knowing. Healing will come by seeing our own fear and rage in the fear and rage of others, and then by asking, and then by sharing. And round ‘n round we go. Did I mention love in this? That’ll have to be a sequel.

– Danny/TL&TW/December 4, 2015

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An Introduction to The Light & The Weight.

I

had a dream wherein I was both spectator and participant in a great race at a Roman-times track. These were elite athletes, the stakes were high, and the crowd was spilling with anticipation—having poured the fears and hopes of a whole city’s identity onto these few, obvious heroes.

It was then, mid-way through one-way around the track, when a great disruption occurred: a colored man, frayed and embodying the archetype of the oppressed, stumbled right in front of the athletes as he hurried, confusedly, to find his post. The race and ritual had come to a screaming halt, and players and spectators alike were quick to project their anger onto the man that clearly had no respect for the sport. What gall, and what right did this man have?

For the crowd, it was reality to see how this brainless agitator had ruined the cultural event of the year and doused the expectant prospects of a society. And yet as clearly as they would justify its punishment of the man, the crowd was blind to the real injustice hidden and disguised in its shadow projection. This man—the agitator, the simpleton—was a captive in his own existence by the same legal order that now wished to find a way to expel him still further to the fringes.

As I reflect on this dream a few hours later, my eyes fill with tears as I see this myth’s endurance in the world we act to desperately guard today. What’s percolating in our collective unconscious—the injuries of the global refugee crisis, Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration, income inequality, indigenous-, women’s-, and LGBT rights, down to the plight of Ahmed Mohamed—this is our proverbial moment when we transform our throwing of the spear into the recognition of its destruction within ourselves.

The identity crisis that the sovereign crowd experiences when its ritual is collapsed (the crumbling of corporatism, the end-rule of the ruling elite, the nature-drained/oil-fueled built environment, the defenseless exposure of American exceptionalism)…it pales in comparison to the identity theft of oppressed minorities—as they are denied the very basis for ritual as a way of life. But both identity crises are real, and both can only be healed when shared power and inclusivity are valued more highly than the pitting of dual realities.

My true story and yours aren’t the only ones.

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