Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Divine Mother!

Creation is our Mother in the form of nature. God, through the power of intelligent vibration, has created and sustains the universe, and is seated at the still heart of all flux. In celebrating Mother's Day, let us include God as Mother, housekeeper of creation. The Bible tells us that God gazed upon His creation and called it good! We, too, should celebrate the manifest beauty, power, and intelligence in all nature, and, most importantly, witness God's loving presence at the heart of all things and all beings.

Endowed with God's desireless desire to create and the intelligence to do so, we are "like gods." The intelligence streaming out from the heart of infinity begins to stretch like a rubber band until it begins to assert itself separate and apart from Divinity. This outgoing force is called "maya," the measurer, or the satanic intelligence and power. It manifests in the larger sphere of creation, and in the hearts of men. Individuality is compelled to seek continued existence, to perpetuate that existence, and to enjoy its existence.

The delusive and suffering-laden consequences of this process are in no way, however, a condemnation of the glory of creation and of God's presence within it. No matter how "far" it seems we may go from our Oneness in Infinity, God remains our sole substance and only reality. Regaining our glory as children of God is a matter of reestablishing our contact and identity with our divinity which, as Jesus put it, "is within you."

In the New Testament story of Martha and Mary, Jesus Christ reprimands Martha for her fussiness (in the kitchen), saying that her sister Mary had chosen the better part (sitting at his feet, quietly, communing with her Lord). But Jesus was not telling her to get out of the kitchen (after all, he was probably going to get a meal from the deal)! Rather, he was saying that when we are active and serving, we should be mindful, joyful, and acting as an instrument of God's power, calmness, and wisdom.

In this stressful culture of America, we have much to gain from daily meditation and from bringing the peace of meditation into daily life. Breath breaks, mental "japa" (silent, inward devotional chanting), and attitudes of joy and servicefulness can make work a meditation, and meditation the divine work of seeking God.

Blessings to you!


Is Trade Free?

I'd like to walk in a different park today than meditation and spirituality--have a change of pace, perhaps.

Our country and this world face so many challenges and changes it's difficult to make sense of what is happening, what to mention what we think should happen. Seeing the paralysis in the U.S. Congress even in the aftermath of a sweeping victory by Barack Obama and despite his party's control of the Congress, makes one wonder how this nation (what to mention other nations working together) will ever make the substantive changes in economics, attitude, lifestyle, and ecology that are required for life to survive on this planet..

Over the years, perhaps like you, I more or less accepted the doctrine that free trade was good for America and good for everyone else as well. But with the trade deficits, government deficits, real estate foreclosures, personal, corporate, state, and municipal bankruptcies, I have come to the conclusion that when free trade is neither free, nor trade, it can't be good for anyone!

Trade is not free when its consequences destroy entire industries, cause widespread unemployment, or wreak devastation on whole cities and regions. Trade is not free if it exploits people who earn so little that they are virtually enslaved, trapped in a subsistence cycle of work that is unhealthy or otherwise unsustainable and humanly degrading. Such people have no voice, no rights, no practical means to meet their basic needs.

Trade is not free if its environmental consequences are devastating. Though hardly devastating, even just the example of flying in apples from South America to Washington State is like both carrying and burning "coals to Newcastle." It seems wasteful. Trade is not trade when it is not equal because one party has nothing to trade in return but simply goes further into debt. The result is an ever mounting debt spiral that ties both debtor and creditor into an economic tailspin. Trade is not trade when it enriches the rich at the expense of ninety-some percent of everyone else.

I have said many times and in different contexts, and no doubt have many others, that sustainable living goes far beyond not harming the environment. Trade may indeed be "free," meaning markets can be accessible to the conduct of worldwide business, but not without some basic and sustainable parameters or solid basis.

The mature economies such as America's should have sufficient internal production and productivity that we do not rack up trade deficits unendingly month after month. A growing and quickly maturing economy like India or China should, in their turn, attend to the infrastructure and consumer needs of their own people. Trade among us can then be built upon sustainable and balanced economies and can be truly an exchange of goods and services of equal value.

Nations whose primary productivity takes the form of natural resources are already in an unbalanced economic situation. Building for them a healthy economy is not so easy. This goes beyond my subject but I would simply say that if the income they earn from their exports cannot find its way back to their nation in the forms of imports that are useful, relevant and which contribute to at least a long-term greater self-sufficiency, it would seem better for them, at least, to reduce such exports. Easier said than done and, as I say, a different subject. In the case of oil exporting nations, a reduction of supply would certainly add further incentive to consuming nations to work towards greater energy self-sufficiency. In the end we'd all work towards economies that are more sustainable.

The imbalance between mature economies, developing economies and subsistence economies of course fuels the migration of people from the latter to the former. Again we therefore have an issue of unsustainability as witness the current (and long-running) controversary around immigration to America. Balanced and sustainable national and regional economies can benefit all nations.

Coming back to America, it would take some courage and political will to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing and production back to sustainable levels. This is because such steps would appear to be anti-free-trade (superficially but still symbolically) and would probably have to include, among many measures, some degree of "protectionism." Hopefully incentives and cooperation can lead the way and punitive or restrictive measures can be avoided or minimized. Communication and cooperation with those nations who think they depend on exports to America would be of utmost importance.

One way or another, and admittedly, mostly the hard way, America and other nations in a similar unbalanced debt and trade position, will be forced to re-balance their economies. Why not do it intelligently and efficiently, and avoid at least some of the pain and humiliation of bankruptcy and worse.

Look forward to some other thoughts on the financial industry. Blessings, Hriman