Finding Wholeness In Our Shared Inheritance
By Lee Temple Download PDF Here
Sometimes it’s hard to take today’s “Twilight Zone.” I’m referring to life in that strange disconnect between the majority’s consensus—concerning weapons legislation and climate change, for example— and the selfish string-pulling of small, financially and politically powerful special-interest cabals actively thwarting commonsense advances in national and global culture. In evidence: Global greenhouse gas levels continue their unchecked growth. They likely won’t peak until 2030 at the earliest, even though the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified 2015 as “the tipping point,” the time after which no human activity will be able to forestall catastrophic global climate change.
Global carbon emissions continued to escalate during the recent financial downturn, and now their growth is accelerating again. The current global carbon footprint surpassed 35.6 billon tons per year in 2012 (up 2.6% from 2011). We’ve just passed the ignominious milestone of 400.0 ppm in the atmosphere, far above the 350 ppm consensus target, and nearly 60% above the 1997 Kyoto Protocol’s baseline levels.
The consequences of dropping the carbon ball are real and getting uglier: We have more than sixty million refugees worldwide, many of whom have been displaced by climate change—more than twenty million affected by the July 2010 Pakistani monsoon alone. Some estimates place the climatically disenfranchised at two hundred million by 2050.
Many of us (including politicians and even many environmentalists) haven’t yet fully integrated these dire straits. Instead, dysfunctional political stalemates and blind seeking of continued global growth during the past several decades have brought us to our climactic cliff-edge, and severely narrowed our choices for avoiding catastrophe. No wonder denial and despair supersede acting on the truth that mainstream media has systematically discounted.
Clearly, our global climate crisis playbook/toolkit remains incomplete, unintegrated, and ineffective. We can and must do better. What’s missing is a larger sense of selfhood – a new ethics/worldview founded in a sensibility of wholeness and global responsibility – one that values the sources and sustenance of our existence as much our personal wants and needs. Unfortunately, only a decisive, worldwide change in our underlying awareness can yield a realistic hope of earthly life’s long-term survival. The dramatic shift required (and that is already well underway) is from divisive to unifying, from exclusive to inclusive, from divergent to convergent ways of thought, feeling, and action.
One broadly accessible, workable way of reasserting our wholeness embraces the many contributory aspects that make our fragile human existence possible. Such inter-relationships have traditionally been known in various cultures, fields, and time periods as “lineages.”
In scientific terms, a lineage is a subset of the evolutionary tree of life and is generally thought of as a sequence of species that form a line of descent, with each new species emerging from its immediate ancestral species.
Various scientists, particularly Jared Diamond, see human wisdom-transmission from elder to younger as a key evolutionary ingredient of our species’ successful survival, progress, and transformation. The reverence for ancestors we see in indigenous and other philosophical, spiritual, and/or religious traditions is likely a recognition of the importance of this capacity in us to pass on wisdom.
Indigenous spiritual leaders in traditional cultures the world over—notably the lamas of Tibet and the Vedic pundits of India—can recite the names of their predecessors, and often do so before public speaking or teaching. They do this not only to honor them but also to acknowledge their forebears’ living presence in their own lives. These unbroken successions of wisdom-keepers often extend back hundreds or even thousands of years. The same is true for some royal family lineages. Such lineage reverence echoes the religious admonition to “Honor thy father and mother.”
Yet traditional wisdom teachings never had the worldwide exposure that is now possible, nor could most have had the trans-cultural acceptance that a scientific picture of reality enjoys today. Contemporary science makes it possible to clarify and understand our ultimate common unified lineage—the one that takes us back beyond the birth of humanity, the Earth, the stars and galaxies, all the way back to the dawn of time. This is a truth long held by many spiritual traditions that could not prove or present it in any universally acceptable terms.
Thanks to startling recent developments in inter-related scientific fields from astrophysics and particle-physics to earthly biology, genetics, and anthropology, we can now more effectively trace the lineages of all beings, places, and things. Whether it’s atoms or arachnids, galaxies or gold, regular folks like you and me or emperors, high lamas, gurus, and indigenous elders, all forms of manifestation are clearly linked to a single shared source in Originating Power and its Big Bang universal origination event. Known the world over by many names, Originating Power is the ultimate great-ancestor of all wisdom traditions, racial or ethnic groups, and even humanity itself.
I call this complete, unbroken chain of events and phenomena that has enabled the existence of ourselves and our shared world our Grand Universal Lineage. It includes, honors, and unites all beings, places, and things, everywhere.
We can better understand the value and importance of the Grand Universal Lineage thusly: We each individually (you and I) could not exist as we do without the prior existence of our own personal family ancestries, all of which couldn’t exist without the prior existence of humanity, which couldn’t exist as it does without the prior existence of earthly life, which couldn’t exist without the prior existence of the Earth, which couldn’t exist without gravity and all the large celestial forms (like the Sun) that it birthed, all of which couldn’t exist without the prior existence of the other universal laws and forces of nature that apply to elementary particles, atoms, and so on.
If we deeply consider all these inter-related contributory parts and the living, vibrant whole they compose, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that each and every aspect in the Grand Universal Lineage is a major and pivotal achievement of universal evolution—and that they and our vast cosmos are indeed miraculous, sacred occurrences.
Science has revealed and verified the specific mechanics of this amazing universal form continuum to an unprecedented extent in this and the previous few decades. The invention of the Internet in 1989, made possible by previous innovations such as the computer, TV, telephone, and telegraph, has also provided us the unprecedented capability of sharing knowledge of our singular lineage with everyone in the world.
Contemporary scientific verification of the ancient spiritual vision of a single, common lineage begs a closer look by the world’s scientific, indigenous, religio/spiritual, and philosophic traditions, so that we might all find in it effective ways to establish a deeper common ground for our teachings and Earth- healing efforts moving forward.
From our Grand Universal Lineage, we gain the crucial awareness of our ultimate kinship. As human beings, we are all related—as inter-related parts of an immense, living, evolving whole whose nature and mechanics we can all now hold much more clearly in our understanding than ever before.
We should care about deepening this holistic sort of existential understanding, because how we conduct ourselves in the immediate future will affect the long-term viability not only of our species but of Earth’s entire biosphere as well. Just as each successive development in the Grand Universal Lineage is made possible by its ancestors, so too our future and the future of earthly life depend upon us.
This lineage’s ultimate defining quality of immense inter-relatedness can also help us better revere all life. It helps us to see for example that we humans are not possible without our world-based support system. Further, we see that our behavior has an equally profound effect on our “Mother” Earth and her biosphere today. Our individual actions can be seen as contributory parts of the larger whole of our collective human behavior—as essential dynamics in the meaningful mosaic that is human nature, itself a small and now-critical constituent of Mother Nature.
Embracing the Grand Universal Lineage’s intrinsic interdependence and non-autonomy can also help us solve global problems such as climate change. Inter-relational awareness can help us accept and better integrate all the many contemporary Earth-healing efforts (such as large- and small-scale green energy systems, top-down legislation/regulation and bottom-up grass-roots efforts, etc.) more holistically and harmoniously, which will strengthen their power and effectiveness moving forward.
Lineage inter-relatedness has already powerfully affected how we think about and relate to our world. For example, the newly emerging Global-Interdependence Philosophy (from Wilber’s integral vision to Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, etc.) sees all aspects of worldly life and human civilization as inter- related, and intimates that global problems like climate change require global solutions. Bio-regional Interdependence also sees bio-regions non-autonomously, as individuals in the larger continental family and global community of bio-regions, key contributing participants in the larger, organic whole. And popular Local Interdependence-based movements like sustainability, permaculture, relocalization and transition-towns all participate in a larger philosophic inter-relatedness, as all share the same DNA and goals of lowering carbon emissions while raising daily life quality.
Understanding our Grand Universal Lineage helps us see that many different scales of activity can mesh together harmoniously in authentic, mutually respectful partnership. Internalizing the bigger picture of our inter-relatedness (and common vulnerability) could facilitate a lasting transition past the petty politics of our partisan persuasions into constructive collective cooperation and decisive, Earth- healing action. This is valuable in our urgent time-frame as we need to quickly find and implement all workable solutions.
Implementing “all of the above” with a realistic, can-do mindset requires real political accommodation, negotiation, and cooperation—golden-rule-based “necessary partnering.” It requires abandoning our selfish (and limiting) utopian ideologies to achieve real carbon mitigation. This means that hard-liners on both sides of the environmental issue must ask and answer tough questions like “Would I rather have things go my way, or have a habitable planet?” Paradoxically, the truly good news is that we can all make effective contributions in all our activities today, in our own ways, on our own terms. All viable solutions are important and helpful, just as all are imperfect yet doable. All shades of green embody the spirit of Earth-healing that can be trusted.
In the absence of decisive political climate-change leadership at local, state, national and/or global levels, the small-scale realm of little everyday changes works for all, and small, simple steps can have great effects when made by many. When time is of the essence as it is now, “achievable action” trumps speculative theory and political or special-interest sandbagging.
Achievable actions include: 1) seeing the many ways we affect our supporting environment negatively (with carbon emissions); 2) constructing a workable, comprehensive, holistic plan to reduce our carbon footprint as much and as soon as possible, and 3) effective ongoing implementation and/or updating of our chosen plan. In spite of all the negative contrarian propaganda, Earth-healing really is that simple.
Here’s an example of how such small change can make a big difference: American homes account for roughly 20% of the U.S. share of global emissions (18% as of fall 2011). A typical American home’s carbon footprint (estimated at over 80 tons/year) consists of approximately 25–30% electrical energy, 20–25% fuel for aggregate household transportation, 20–25% heating/cooking, 10–15% food/water supply, and 10–15% goods/services. Comprehensive planning takes all these into consideration when envisioning household carbon mitigation.
I’ve used this comprehensive, holistic approach to reduce my family’s carbon footprint by over 75% during the past two decades, and built a rich and rewarding life in the process. I even had lots of fun meeting this great life challenge. Our carbon footprint has been cut by an average of just over 40 tons per year, or 800 tons over the 20-year lifespan of our ongoing carbon footprint reduction campaign.
If all U.S. households had decreased their footprints by the same percentage, up to 15% of the total estimated U.S. carbon emissions (as much as 854 million metric tons of the U.S.’s total of 5,696 million metric tons) would already have been eliminated. Now imagine the immense reduction if all First World households reduce their footprints as much as we did. Further, imagine if we lower our carbon footprint by 75% or more in our workplaces and consumer lifestyles as well. If we care to rehabilitate and re- empower the majority’s common sense of delivering a habitable planet to our great-grandchildren, these are the sorts of steps we must take. And surely, if I can do it, anybody can; and we all must!
Our Grand Universal Lineage reveals our ultimate shared ancestry and provides contemporary scientific verification of the ancient spiritual truths that all life is sacred and that our fragile human existence relies on something much bigger and more powerful than even our strongest governmental, corporate, or military machinery. (We wouldn’t be here without the rest of creation, and whatever happens to life on Earth happens equally to us.) It also gives us a larger holistic conceptual framework that, when applied to our own behavior, can help us better engender decisive change and celebrate it in the Earth-healing contributions of others.
This extended lineage sensibility also shows us our specific place in the bigger picture: As our ancestors gave us life’s treasure galore, our great-grandchildren’s fate is tied to every step we take; to our daily interactions with family, community, and world. We are their ancestors. Will we abandon or save them?
A visionary, educator, spiritual elder, community organizer and global sustainability advocate/consultant, Lee Temple has been living the low-carbon life and continuously producing “100% Genuine SLV Solar Power” since 1993. He used some of it to create and share this completely carbon-neutral document. An illustrated version is available as a free PDF download (see link above).
For more information on how you can become an important part of the immediate global climate solution, including following Lee’s Ten Steps to a Healthier, Safer Planet, and/or to learn more about him and his inspiring work, especially his newly launched Global Awakening series (including Part I: The Grand Universal Lineage featured in this article), please visit www.primamundi.com.
© 2013 Lee Temple, Shining Golden Suns LLC, All Rights Reserved.