All posts by Thanissara

Thanissara trained in Buddhist meditation centers in the UK, EU, Myanmar and India, and spent 12 years as a monastic in the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Tradition. She has taught in-depth meditation retreats in many countries over the last 30 years. Thanissara co-founded with her husband, Kittisaro, Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in South Africa and Sacred Mountain Sangha Non-Proft Church in California. Thanissara has an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy from the Karuna Institute UK and is the author of several books, including Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth. She has been a climate activist for many years through her writing, teachings, and direct actions on the streets and at Standing Rock. She is on the Teacher Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. In May '23 Thanissara is facilitating a short training: Time To Stand Up: Mindfulness in the Apocalypse.

You Are Not Alone: Joining Together to Face Down Fascism – A Message to Tovana Sangha, Israel

Thanissara, March 27, ’23

Organizers say more than 600,000 Israelis turned out today (March 25) the 12th consecutive week of protests, the biggest demonstration in the country’s history. Israelis say their democracy is at stake.

Dearest Sangha friends, Kittisaro and I extend our heartfelt solidarity with you at this time of extreme threat to our shared values for a democratic society. I’m also heartened by the hundreds of thousands protesting on the streets that is now sending shock waves through the government. The fight to sustain and grow an equitable democracy in the face of a global uprising of authoritarianism and Fascism is also our struggle. We, too, are up against a fight for democracy in our home countries of the U.S. and the U.K. 

Recently, CIVICUS Monitor reported that the U.K.’s authoritarian trend toward curtailing and violating civic freedoms has now downgraded its status alongside Guatemala, Ghana, Tunisia as free and fair societies. The curtailment of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and the right to protest are some of the first civic rights in the process of being overturned in the U.K. There is also great concern that the U.K. government’s attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act will end its alliance with the European Convention of Human Rights, threatening the most vulnerable and those wrongly arrested and imprisoned for peaceful demonstrations while opening the door to overturning a slew of other rights.

In the U.S., in the Republican-run States, we see extensive book bans, severe repression of women’s reproductive rights, an attempt to eradicate the visibility and equal rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and the disappearance of historical facts of colonialism and African American and Indigenous histories in educational curriculums. Right now, a bill that will likely pass the Florida State Legislature criminalizes those housing or driving undocumented immigrants, even if related, many of whom have been in the U.S. from childhood but consistently denied a fair path to citizenship. Inevitably this will devastate families, undermine businesses, and demonize an already large vulnerable sector of the population.  

In South Carolina, the Republicans are pushing legislation to execute women who have abortions, with no exceptions, even in the case of rape or incest, with the bill vague enough that it could, in theory, be extended to those who miscarry. This ideology is not from the fringe but an increasingly mainstream Republican strategy. Seeing the recent demonstration in Tel Aviv, where hundreds of women’s rights protestors dressed as Handmaidens, struck a painful and terrifying chord with those of us everywhere fighting to preserve hard-won rights.    

A tactic of fascistic authoritarianism is using speed and relentless bombardment to stun the population while, by stealth, rolling back rights won over decades of struggle. Another tactic, aided by unscrupulous media, is to inflame hatred and drive division like a stake through the heart of civil society to the point where almost no family, community, or institution is untarnished. These shock tactics aim to overwhelm the public’s ability to hold ground and respond effectively.

I remember the shock in the 2016 U.S. election as we sat through that fateful evening with family in Nashville when Trump took the presidency. We were sure, nonchalant even, that Hilary Clinton would win. The horror of watching the U.S. map turn red left us almost speechless. It was a staggering blow.  That sleepless night, I could feel the geo-political tectonic plates moving beneath us as a chilling shadow descended over the world.

With Trump as the perfect archetypal demagogue throwing open the gates of hell, we witnessed the inversion of morals, rationality and democratic processes. At the same time, the politics of chaos, raw fear and hatred were unleashed and normalized. Since then, “truth as lies and lies as truth” has become political expediency. Its most dangerous application is the crazy-making levels of gaslighting by right-wing media busy underwriting a collective psychotic break from society’s ability to react to the dire and urgent reality of a fast-warming world descending into environmental collapse.

When the Trumpian chill descended on Britain with lightning rapidity through the Trojan Horse of Brexit with its ubiquitous myths of “sunny uplands”, it quickly turned a stable democracy into a divided nation. It opened the door to political authoritarianism, a massive wealth transfer to the tax-exempt billionaire class; it sent the country into economic free fall and captured the hundred-year-old venerable BBC, now an arm of right-wing propaganda.

As the authoritarian freeze circles the globe, we’ve seen the loss of a fragile democracy in Myanmar, the overturning of freedoms in Hong Kong and China, the return of authoritarian regimes in Poland and Hungry, and like Netanhayu’s craven attempt to avoid criminal charges through political control, criminally indicted former President Zuma threw South Africa into chaos and societal breakdown to avoid prison. More recently, we’ve seen surprising electoral far-right wins in Sweden and Italy and even in Holland with the shock gains of the right-wing, anti-green, pro-farmers Boerenpartij Party, and, of course, we see the daily horror of Putin’s genocidal attack on Ukraine.  

All of this is to say you are not alone in what you are experiencing in Israel. However, distinguishing Israel from the U.K. and U.S. is the extraordinary speed of Netanyahu’s move for complete control of the judiciary, which amounts to a coup by the extreme religious right. As historian and author Yuval Noah Harari said, this marks the unthinkable reality of Israel’s fast tipping into a dictatorship. The country’s chief justice, Esther Hayut, also called the weakening (and likely hostile takeover) of the Supreme Court a “fatal blow” to democratic institutions. As tens of thousands of protesters have flooded the streets, one sign, as reported in the New Yorker, summed up civic society’s horror: “For Sale: Democracy. Model: 1948. No brakes.”    

For those less familiar with Israeli politics, Netanayhu’s enablers from the far-right religious Zionist movement led by notorious Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit “Jewish Power” party in tandem with the Religious Zionist Party are together attempting to perpetuate the crime of destroying Israel’s secular democracy. Ben Gvir is considered so dangerous that it prompted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to describe him as a “more imminent danger to Israel than a nuclear-armed Iran.” Ben Gvir has a long history of inflaming hatred toward Arabs and has been convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and inciting racism. 

Given the complex nature of Israel’s fragile geo-political position alongside its internal mix of crushing Palestinian rights, militarized incursions into the Occupied Territories, the extremism of fanatical Settlers, and deep tensions between the secular and religious in society, the last thing everyone needs is this extreme right-wing Netanyahu-Ben Gvir alliance. 

While truly shocking for liberal-minded Israelis, it will be even more devastating for Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and all not Jewish-identified people living under the Israeli state’s umbrella. While this steep rise of nationalism may seem like safety for those who voted for it, as so painfully known in Israel and from the indelible lessons of the last century, Fascism has nothing to offer except hatred, division, the destruction of civil society and humane values, and ultimately, the horrors of genocide.

So, here we are. It shouldn’t be the way it is, right now, this is the way it is. So, first, we must take stock and shake off any last vestiges of denial that we are going back to “business as usual” soon. We need to understand in our bones that the more beautiful world we dream, hope, and work for is under extreme threat by those who now hold an excessive amount of political, economic and media power, and if successfully captured, the power of state, military and legislature. In response, we need to understand ourselves, not just as individuals or meditation practitioners interested in awakening, but as needed members of a Dharma-informed resistance movement.

I have a folder marked “Climate” on my laptop filled with years of collected articles, information, and initiatives I’m involved with. After my Zoom call with beloved sangha member and Tovana teacher Ilan Luttenberg, who invited me to write this article, I created a new folder titled “Fascism.” The pathway to ensuring eco-sustainability, human rights, animal rights and climate justice has to run through democracy. We don’t have the luxury of being bogged down by indecision. Instead, we must grapple with the reality of a double-headed hydra of malignant forces focused on plunging the world into a brutal and violent descent.    

As Ajahn Chah said, Dharma practice is preparation for more significant challenges. We practiced for this moment. While it’s tempting to retreat into meditative quietism and spiritual bypass, we need to expand our understanding of the fullness of the Buddha’s transmission instead. As one schooled in politics and military strategy from the warrior caste, the Buddha overturned the oppressive caste system of his time. He overturned the sacrifice of animals, engaged and advised political, monarchic and military power, tried to stop wars, mediated water rights, and debated with his detractors to great effect. He threatened the religious hierarchy so profoundly they consistently tried to undermine him and even kill him.   

The heartbeat of the awakened mind is bodhicitta, meaning the force of compassion rooted in the understanding that reality is seamless. In other words, all is present within this one awareness. Zen master Dogen articulated this insight as “enlightenment is the intimacy of all things.” Dharma practice inducts us into the direct knowing heart in allegiance with the intuitive, quantum-like guiding intelligence of the living Dharma. Even in the face of fear, we can still access an innate, indomitable fountain of love, compassion and clarity of seeing, which means even though employing our intellect, we must engage from the heart.

So, alongside the reality check of challenges we face, mindfully, in the true meaning of the word – to remember – we remember that we also carry power. The power of love, community, strategic response, joining together en masse, holding an authentic relational field that is compassionate, nourishing, resourcing, and listening to the heartbeat of the Dharma. In this case, the Dharma of reality is our refuge, guide, and source of strength. The task before us then is to use all non-violent methods available to us to defeat Fascism, uplift humanity, and for all its tattered corruptions to save and improve democracy.

How does this translate into practice? We have practiced internally for hours, months, and even years in retreat, exploring the internal realms. We have practiced in community building sangha and a body of teachings. Now it’s time to consider a practice that engages society where we move out of our silos, our bubbles and comfortable spaces to build bridges and create alliances. In Israel, I encourage the Sangha to join the protests as part of the front-line challenge against this unabashed attempt at a full-on coup. Now is the moment because once a coup and control of the judiciary are secured, it will be harder to roll back. 

To find courage, remember our parents, grandparents and ancestors’ struggles and how each generation had to fight for a better world. Remember all spiritually-based activists who inspire us to pick up the challenge. Find what skills are present in the Sangha as writers, speakers, organizers, and artists and explore strategies for optimum engagement. Hold meditation circles for peace, perhaps in the streets.

Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to get the small handbook “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” (here in brief) by the Levin professor of History at Yale University, Timothy Synder who has written extensively on fascism and is a pro-democracy lecturer and activist.  

Whatever ways you find to meet this moment, Kittisaro and myself, alongside so many of us here in our Sangha circles, are with you and hold you in our hearts most tenderly. These days, together, may we all be as radical as possible in the spirit of Dharma to grow the beautiful world of our higher dreams. If not now, when?

Let Them Eat Turnips: A Cautionary Tale from Brexit Britain – Thanissara

Art by Cold War Steve

My friend wrote an angry poem sparked by being served one of England’s increasingly ubiquitous “no-fault” and no reason given eviction orders. In this perfect English rose garden, jolly pub and soft green lawned village, she and her partner never missed paying rent, were an asset to the community, and devotedly restored a village heritage building as a labour of love adding value to the local Lord’s sprawling estate. After years of living quietly, being evicted was a shock. Like many of us self-effacing Englanders, even though wrongly treated, my friend didn’t want her angry poem to go public. Though thankfully, she agreed I could anonymously share it (below) prompting this article.

It usually takes anger to crack open the ways we normalize systemic injustice. However, socially ingrained English “niceness” weaves a sealed veneer that represses unacceptable displays of rage. Yet outrage is a healthy response to the ruling class destroying the social fabric of Britain while plundering public assets to ferret away in their offshore Non-dom trusts. No matter how criminal the act, it seems these self-appointed elite are above the law. Boris Johnson is a perfect example of an Etonian who train-smashed the country and yet continues to breeze around the world on the millionaire lecture circuit.

Britain has been brought to its knees by Tory Brexit hoisted aloft on a scaffolding of gaslight lies for which no one takes responsibility. Brexit and thirteen years of forced Tory austerity has led to extensive food-bank dependency and untreated sewage flowing unabated into rivers and coastlines. This is the direct outcome of Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as a society.” Yet still, the Tory parade of slick contortions, faithfully reported by the now State-controlled BBC, continues to drive their unswerving penchant for Dickensian deprivation for the majority. Nowadays, millions of UK residents struggle to provide food and heat in their homes while fossil fuel companies and major corporations stack up billions in profits; tax free with no questions asked.

As recent food shortages pinched the country tighter, British Secretary of State, Environment and Rural Affairs Therese Coffey, suggested people eat turnips. There’s nothing wrong with turnips, but in this context, citing turnips, a food usually used as cattle fodder, adds insult to injury. Coffey’s British version of “let them eat cake” is an egregious reinforcement of Tory obsession with deepening class division stunting Britain’s ability to move forward as a collaborative, visionary nation.

Just this week, Rishi Sunak (the third Prime Minister elected without input from the people) eulogized Northern Ireland’s great fortune of accessing EU and UK markets without the slightest awareness of the stinging irony that the Tories demolished any access to EU trade for England, Scotland and Wales. Britain’s extreme Brexit trade isolation, a sleight of hand that Sunak enthusiastically cheered along, has effectively pushed it into economic free-fall.

The moral of the story? There are as many to fill a library. But, in essence, Tory Brexit, like Trumpian MAGA and Putin’s Russia, as extreme right-wing political forces, do not know how to build a thriving society. Instead, they destroy the connective tissue that holds society together leaving people without a positive vision or means to engage in creative regeneration.

The destruction of the public commons is deliberate. An isolated people struggling to survive are at the mercy of narcissistic and sociopathic leaders who intend to fashion a society where they maintain power and are free to loot. While poverty deepens in Britain and the cost of living rises beyond what is affordable for millions, Tories just spent £25k on a crystal-encrusted vanity portrait of the Prime Minister and £40k on his shooting trip. It seems they lose no chance to underline their disdain for nurses, doctors, railway workers, postal staff, and so many working-class striking, in the heart of winter, for some kind of living wage.

CYRM6G The Oyster Lunch 1735 by Troy Jean Francois de 1679-1752 France French

Despite all the polished political rhetoric, the tale of Brexit Britain is a shocking story of self-serving politicians plunging a country into poverty while heightening divisions across families, communities and all sections of society. What replaces a once much happier kingdom is now a ruling class wielding raw power and their assumed right to abscond with the collective purse. Just like, on a smaller scale, the unaccountable power used to evict my friend. And like the villages, towns, and communities ripped apart, as reflected in her poem below.

To feel anger is to be alive to injustice. When mindfully transformed, anger clarifies and burns away the dross. Outrage is the fire that moves people to stand up and fight for their rights. The village is our global world, while the landlords who control the political, economic and media domains seem intent on evicting us from our collective home, Earth. So, let the fire of anger warm our heart, energize our passion, and bring us out on the streets together. We have a future to win.

Goodbye to a Village 

Sneaky, bitching 
Witch-burning village 
Good-bye to gossip-mongering 
Shifty people… 
Goodbye to pikey*-burning 
Bonfire crew, 
status-grabbing middle management 
and six-sandwiches-short-of-a-picknick
Lord what’s-his-face. 

Good-bye to those who were good 
but drowned out by the voices of the  
many that weren’t. 
The silently suffering single mums. 
The stupid clay-pigeon shooters 
and the Mafia pub landlady. 

Goodbye to the pagan TV vicar. 
The grumpy gits working themselves into the grave.
The estate managers-from -hell 
hiking rents up beyond anything 
Sussex wages can support. 

Good-bye to smug home-owners. 
The Parish Council Dodos 
and the Bonfire Society 
The same old same olds 
chatting at the Pub. 
The neighbours currently on the third husband.

The guys that shot themselves  or jumped off a cliff. 

Story of a village… 

Now it’s the gauging-out of the working class.
The maintenance team sacked or walking off.
Time for the Rock Stars to move in 
with their recording studios 
and black electric Audi fleets. 

Good-bye Village, it was crazy-making. 
Knowing you, 
I learned a lot – some good, some bad. 
I guess you’ll carry on in some 
weird drug-induced bubble. 
You are a communal mirage. 
A fixation of the imagination 
of an “English Village.”

* Pikey a pejorative term for Travellers or Romanis.

Art by Cold War Steve.

“King Charles,” Not So Fast: The Queen’s Death, An Opportunity for Systemic Change in the UK.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne four years before I was born. For those who grew up under the sway of the British imperial system, her stoic face was a constant tenor through the decades of seismic cultural shifts in Britain and the post-Second World War world. Like the glue we licked behind her miniature visage on our first and second-class stamps, the Queen was foremost an archetypal matron holding it all together. Her face alone, rarely breaking beyond a careful smile, imprinted duty, a stiff upper lip, and the stilted deflection, diverting “real speak” to the engrained platitudes that shape, and often imprison, the nation’s psyche. 

I am not immune from the sense of belonging to this strange, emotionally stunted tribe. I still have my letter from Prince Charles in a Kensington Palace embossed envelope thanking me kindly for a copy of my first published poetry book. I still have my special tea cups with monarchy portraits and the memory of my sweet, East End (of London) working-class grandparents, with the Queen’s congratulatory letter on their 60th wedding anniversary hanging proudly over their central mantel place. 

I have watched royal weddings at odd hours from different continents and kept an eye on the shenanigans of the Queen’s tumultuous household, mirroring the nation’s implosion of the nuclear family. And I am an avid viewer of The Crown. 

On Facebook, I posted the June ’22 Jubilee video of the Queen’s tea party with Paddington Bear to prickly comments about Paddington Bear being an immigrant (from Peru) and “look how badly Britain is treating its immigrants.” While painfully true, I still marvelled at the translucent vulnerability in the Queen’s eyes as she sat, so near death, opposite this beloved bear, enjoying marmalade sandwiches. 

Essentially, this staid woman invokes respect. She called forth double rainbows at her death. She embodied the “Keep Calm and Carry On” branding of my mother’s generation forged by German Blitz bombers, flying twenty miles long and twenty miles wide up the River Thames to unleash their devastation on London. During that whole time, the Queen refused to leave the Capital. 

But… and, this “but” is as deep and wide as the brutal plunder and oppression of the British Empire, which aches for acknowledgement and reparation for its centuries of devastating colonialism. All of which were underwritten by the Monarchy. So, while the government and Monarchy rush the nation to swear allegiance to a new King, I feel we should resist and instead engage this spell breaker of the Queen’s death with some serious questions.   

Not so fast with the sixteenth-century pageantry and assumptions that we are all onboard. Yesterday, a man who unwittingly got caught up in a procession in Oxford to proclaim the new King spontaneously called out, “who elected him?” He later said he doubted anyone heard him. Even so, he was promptly handcuffed, arrested and charged under the new Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022, a fascistic Brexit “law” criminalizing the public’s democratic right to protest. Paul Powlesland, a young Barrister, held up a blank piece of paper at Parliament Square. A police officer confirmed that if he wrote “Not My King,” he would be arrested under the same act. Here he explains how that moment shifted him to Republicanism.

Under the Monarchy’s gaze, Britain has endured twelve years of Thatcherite policies with her “there is no such thing as a society” austerity, which has sprouted food banks in most towns and cities across the country. The Tory government’s Brexit ideology, headed by the right-wing billionaire media, has crushed businesses. The UK has shifted from the world’s fifth largest economy to “emerging market economy” status in just a few senseless years. Tories, abandoning workers’ rights with alacrity, have left Britain at the mercy of unprotected corporate plunder. 

Currently, while the UK is officially under wraps for ten days of mourning, the Tory government is losing no time ripping up the Paris Agreement and its obligations. One of the first acts of yet another (the third since Brexit) just installed prime minister, Liz “rip out solar and wind installations” Truss, lifted the hard-won fight to ban fracking while transferring £130Bn for fossil fuels. To add insult to injury, throughout the summer, Tories did nothing to stop massive flows of untreated raw sewage from being released into pristine rivers and across coastlines, closing beaches and horrifying the public. 

Still, they continue ripping the country apart. Liz Truss’s encore is installing Jacob Rees-Mogg, a supercilious, top-hatted climate denialist with an affected upper-class accent, as Secretary of State for Energy, Business, and Industrial Strategy. Rees-Mogg advocates for extracting every last drop of oil and gas from the North Sea and adaptation to climate change. Just ask Pakistan’s 33 million climate-displaced people how that is going for them. 

With the “Sunlit Uplands” Brexit promise of the Tories failing so badly, Britain has yet to acknowledge it suffered a coup by an oligarchic, fossil-fuel-serving ruling, criminal class. Their lackeys are the graduates from upper-class public (private in the US) schools, who make up 74% of the current government or just 2% representation of the entire population. From a progressive forward-looking nation, the UK has devolved at dizzying speed into a nostalgic, backwards-falling country immersed in its mythic distortion of “greatness.” The reality is that Britain is now a glorified Petri dish for oligarchs to experiment with how far they can push a nation into hunger-games-type feudalism to maintain and grow their immense wealth and power.  

Given this demoralising context, I would vote for the Monarchy to be dismantled or downsized. Monarchy and its liege, the Tory party, are the lynchpin that sustains an outdated and oppressive class system with its deeply inequitable distribution of land, resources, and opportunities. The struggle to move from under the British class system is a theme running through my own life in tandem with surviving the violence of my Irish father, who grew up in extreme poverty in the Dublin slums. Primarily, I trace my father’s destructive effect on our family to the impact of British colonialism with its constructed famine, workhouses, and unrelenting generational oppression.

Even after decades of self-awareness and healing work, I’m struck by how perniciously, and stubbornly class conditioning is wired into the psyche. The “who do you think you are?” dismissal. For example, millionaire Lord Alan Sugar, tweeted to a young man, who is economically struggling but had the temerity, in Sugar’s mind, to criticize his luxury yacht, “Shut your bloody mouth, you jealous scum,

For the Monarchy to work, it has to veil the brutal mechanisms that enable its survival, which includes even brutalising its own. Prince Harry said he “had no one to turn to, even in his own family,” when his bi-racial wife, Meghan Markle, was pushed to the edge of suicide by the British establishment and the feral racism running through British society. In the end, the relentless hounding of the UK’s treacherous Tabloid press drove them from England.

While the Monarchy aims to bond British citizens to itself through nostalgia, charitable works, good press, and tradition, what we see in the actions of Liz Truss, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Lord Sugar is the more accurate face of the British ruling class. A class of colonisers now plundering Britain itself, all the while using the death of the Queen to force-feed an archaic national narrative that is creating a dangerous void into which an authoritarian police state is already emerging. 

In my view, we don’t need a new King, and he won’t help us. Charles won’t even stand up for his son, Harry. However, the Monarchy and its Tory liege will not implode by itself. Instead, we should withdraw sentimental allegiance (including my teacups!) and build a thriving, equitable, reinvigorated progressive democracy based on proportional representation. A system informed by local Citizen Assemblies that has some chance of meeting the enormity of the poly-crises we face. We are doomed if we fail, choosing instead to be dragged along by a system entirely ill-equipped to meet our new terrifying realities. 

Already an inspiring counter-movement is fast-unfolding in the UK that is in open rebellion, which is different and perhaps cuts deeper than Extinction Rebellion. Trade Union leaders have been massively organising working-class engagement through the Enough is Enough and Don’t Pay campaigns. Hundreds of thousands have signed up, are turning up for rallies, and have pledged not to pay bills. People literally can’t afford the cost of living due to the enormous price hikes the Tories inflicted, leaving little choice between freezing, starving or not paying. 

If the Queen’s death symbolizes the end of an era, it can also initiate the beginning of a new reshaping of the power dynamics in Britain. Increasingly, the planet is run to fit the agenda of oligarchs, fossil-fuel moguls and media robber barons. It’s the same old story. At some point, the peasants will have had enough and start strategizing how to storm the castle. That time is now. 

In the UK, there is tremendous potential in the two primary rebellions, Workers Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion aligning with organizations focused on an equitable, inclusive, sustainable vision for the future. Do we want a society with people reduced to living on charitable donations, like food banks from the government or patronage from the Monarchy? What if, instead, people have a fair share, are recipients of moral reparations and have equal opportunities to empower themselves and each other in mutually collaborative ways?  

Neither do we need an endless show of torturous royal duty that precludes deeper national inquiry. Suppose we want to express loyalty meaningfully rather than pay obeisance to a distant, billionaire Monarchy. What could be a wiser Queen to serve than Grandmother Earth? She produces everything we need and use, day in and day out. For myself, I acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II’s dutiful life, but I vote for Queen Earth. 

Mary Thanissara, 9/13/22

A Dharma Heart for These Times

This article has just been published by Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in their Insight Journal. A follow-up conversation will be on June 5th on Exploring Dharma Practice & Right Action in the Age of Climate Change. To register, go here.

If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.” * Murray Bookchin

Today, I’m relieved we are blessed with unexpected spring rains sweeping over Sonoma County here in California. This area is vulnerable to the rise of infernos that have decimated several small towns over the last five years. Now, as the fall fire season arrives ever earlier, anxiety rises in tandem with evacuations, red alerts, and suffocating smoke. Some consequences are less visible. In January, for example, our home insurance company raised its quote by 500% before announcing it was leaving California. The future, it seems, will not be covered. I find it easier to capture such apocalyptic moments in verse, like when the fires turned day into night across the Bay area.   

At midday, the black-red smoke sky announces,
“You can’t live here anymore.”
We are all queued refugees
from America’s strangeness.
In the gaping void, monsters rush in.

How do we sustain hope in the enormity of what we face? The monsters of environmental tipping points are in plain sight. Still, you would hardly know it from the greenwashing, and tepid responses of those holding most power in our societies. Right now, a heatwave is hammering India and Pakistan. “We’re living in hell,” said Nazeer Ahmed from the Balochistan region, as temperatures hit 50C/122F+. Despite the urgency of mass strategic mobilization, a disingenuous fossil fuel industry continues to press down harder on the gas pedal. Hope is hard when environmental, political, and societal disintegration hangs over us like Damocles’s sword. 

Most days, I don’t feel particularly hopeful. However, I do believe quantum revolutionary shifts can happen, though an upsurge of violence often precedes them before the old system gives way. For instance, a dominant narrative of post-apartheid South Africa is that it was a peaceful transition of power. However, as recorded in Gary Kynoch’s book, Township Violence and the End of Apartheid, this was not the case. What unfolded in the four years leading to the first democratic elections in April 1994 was the bloodiest period of the entire Apartheid era, with an estimated 14,000 deaths attributed to political violence. 

When Kittisaro, my husband and teaching partner, and I first led a series of retreats at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, KwaZulu Natal during 1994/5, in an area bearing the brunt of a ten-year civil war, it was an initiation. Those holding power rarely support true democracy. Instead, it has to be fought for. Another glowering monster closer to home is the fight to sustain democracy here in the US. We are in this battle right now. If democratic rights are lost, it will have devastating consequences for climate justice, not only here but around the world. What does a battle we can’t afford to lose mean for us?

During the twelve years I trained as a Buddhist nun in the Thai Forest School of Ajahn Chah, the teaching I most took to heart was the brilliance of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. I value its instruction to actively meet suffering, explore its causes, and cultivate a path of non-suffering. In his talk “Two Kinds of Peace,” Ajahn Chah distinguished between the peace of meditative calm, or samadhi, which primarily depends on a tranquil environment, and the more profound peace that arises from wisdom. This deeper level of peace is transportable regardless of the internal or external context. To quote Ajahn Chah directly,

So, when the mind is at its most calm, what should you do? Train it. Practice with it. Use it to contemplate. Don’t be scared of things. Don’t attach. Developing samādhi so you can just sit there and attach to blissful mental states isn’t the true purpose of the practice. You must withdraw from that. The Buddha said that you must fight this war, not just hide out in a trench trying to avoid the enemy’s bullets. When it’s time to fight, you really have to come out with guns blazing. Eventually, you have to come out of that trench. You can’t stay sleeping there when it’s time to fight. This is the way the practice is. You can’t allow your mind to just hide, cringing in the shadows.

We must look directly at what is in front of us. The recent reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change make it crystal clear we are on “Red alert” and “It’s now or never.” If we don’t act in support of systemic change, we will not avoid climate hellscapes becoming the norm. That knowledge is a challenge to us all. We have to act, not just as individuals but as a collective, which is a good thing. It means we have to think collectively and join the larger mass of people needed to tip the scales.

Even though hope for the future hangs by fraying threads, there is enormous potential in our ability to organize as Dharma practitioners and as citizens. Amid a world on fire, we have the skills to balance between hope and nihilism. This is not only a mindful practice but a heartful one. These are times when our hearts must lead. What do we truly love and can we commit to activism as a feat of love itself?

An essential motivation in these times is the intent, practice, and expression of the Bodhisattva path. What does it mean to show up as bodhisattvas in deep service to this sacred web of life? And what internal narratives and fears keep us from speaking out and standing up? As we face wars, flooding, fire, and the old ghosts of fascism, I want to advocate for a deeper inquiry that enables honest conversations about the monsters living beneath this “business-as-usual” and what we want to do about them.  

Meet the ghosts… They wail at the empty feast
of silent ash, burnt forests, charred animals,
birds dashed to Earth,
billions of tiny earth workers of evolution,
houses, cars, and life dreams … vanish

Here I offer my grief,
your grief and all our grief
at this nearing last station
of our world’s end.

One way or another, we have reached a world end. In The Creation of Consciousness, Jungian Edward Edinger says: The breakdown of a central myth is like the shattering of a vessel containing a precious essence; the fluid is spilt and drains away, and meaning is lost. In its place, primitive contents are reactivated

As our civilizational myth of endless growth and dominance over nature shatter, we either evolve or become dragged into a regressive free fall. In the intensity, we will likely feel everything possible to feel, grief, despair, wrath, disbelief, panic, and overwhelm. You name it, I’ve probably been there, and likely you have too. These days though, I’m also feeling something else shining through the anxiety and distress. 

The Dharma points to the indestructible nature of mind, calling it “diamond-like.” In the Shurangama Sutra, a foundational Zen text, Quan Yin/Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva states this about her/his/their awakening, illuminating the fundamental nature of the Citta – mind/heart.  

Suddenly, I transcended the mundane and transcendental worlds, and throughout the ten directions, a perfect brightness prevailed. I obtained two supreme states. First, I united with the fundamental, wonderfully enlightened mind of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, and I gained a strength of compassion equal to that of all Buddhas. Second, I united with all living beings in the six paths, and I gained a kind regard for all living beings equally.” 

While shadows are all around, there’s also immense light and tender love for the beauty, suffering, and all. This joyous lightness is the gift of the heart. Yet, we still have enormous hurdles to navigate, including the fears that hold us back.  

The other day, going 70 miles an hour down the freeway, my mind was connecting the obvious dots. I’m flying along in a fossil fuel chariot with millions of others around the planet, speeding our collective demise. Even though caught in this fearsome web, I feel the determination to break the doom scroll of inevitability by committing fully to a different world. This pledge means releasing social fear, including an internalized quietism that Buddhist culture usually elevates over speaking out, keeping us complicit. Releasing these subtle oppressions in my body feels daring, like a wobbly yet liberating ascendency.  

Despite the complexity we are navigating, I hope all our hearts can ascend from circling, freeze, flight, and fight so we can rise together, inspired by the spirit of those who fought for a better world, regardless of the odds. To break fossil fuel interests controlling the planet, it will take all the inspiration we can muster and us all rising together to shift out from under this dystopian descent. 

It’s my practice to infuse a hopeful realism into my life and climate work, which currently is an initiative that came into being during the fires. Talking together with sangha friends, we decided to put climate action front and centre, an intention that morphed into PAEAN: Peoples Alliance for Earth Action Now. I chose the acronym before the name as it expresses the hope for millions of voices rising with joy, wild love, and courage to do what we can. Our by-line is Dharma Based Climate Action, People Rising Together for ReLOVEution. If it starts with a revolution within our hearts, all else will follow.  

There always was, and still is
a horizon out to sea
beyond where the albatross
of our faded dream
lands on fields of plastic,
the wreckage or our waste
slips down her throat. *

Where storms in Africa
run their rivers through our soul
leaping like oryx
in the sunset of dying hope
spinning down to sludge
and shopping malls
draining the water away

Even so.
We rise.
Over and over again.

We rise.
Because of this,
Be this.
Be loyal to your true heart.
She will lead the way.

  • The albatross reference inspired by V.S. Jordan’s poem, Midway V Poem – On Witnessing an Albatross Feeding, inspired by Chris Jordan’s Midway documentary.
  • Thanks to Suvaco Norman Hansen for Murry Bookchin’s quote.

Thanissara, Sebastopol, CA, 5/4/22

Tibetan prayer flags in the vicinity of Lhasa.

2022: Breaking the Spell of Climate Denial: Launch of PAEAN

Jan 30, 2022 Online – DETAILS/Sign Up

PAEAN means the rising of many voices together in a song of joy, praise, and triumph. It is also the acronym for Peoples Alliance for Earth Action Now.

The Buddha was a spell breaker, and as we rise in service of the sacred web of life, we too are spell breakers.

The failure of leadership at COP26 clarifies that now is the time for people everywhere to join forces, locally and worldwide, in service of the just, conscious, and spiritually informed transition still within our reach.

At 23 years, I joined an alms mendicant order, shaved off my long hair, put on a robe, took on precepts and a rigorous daily schedule, which I observed for 12 years as a Buddhist nun. There was much to learn and unlearn during that time, all within the enduring and essential teaching, “look directly at the way things are and contemplate their nature.” That is, see through the eye of Dharma. In particular, see suffering and its causes, then attend to those causes by employing the medicine of meditative transformation internally and externally.

As bodhisattvas in training, we follow the Buddha’s encouragement to; “Go forth for the good of many, out of compassion for the world and the welfare, good, and happiness of all.” These days, we need to go forth from the trance of business as usual. 2022 could well be when this treacherous spell breaks. A UN global poll from last year, states two-thirds of people know climate change is a global emergency. In Europe, 90% of young people know it’s the world’s greatest threat. Most everyone on the planet knows we’re in deep trouble.

However, we face a wall of denial, distraction, and distortion from those who have the power to reverse course but do not see it profitable to do so. Most governments are under the yoke of the fossil fuel industry. For example, some governments’ more ambitious climate policies are threatened by $billions worth of lawsuits if they don’t shape climate policies around the demands of the foreign fossil fuel industry. In step, media barons ensure their wall of denial minimizes or actively distorts an accurate picture of our precarious situation.

People need to know we are passing truly significant, terrifying climate tipping points. Thwaites Glacier (the size of Florida) in the Antarctic is within years of collapse, raising sea levels by 2 feet/ 65cm, potentially (most likely) destabilizing the entire West Antarctic ice sheet. The world’s largest rain forest, the mighty Amazon, now emits more carbon than it captures. Extreme warming across the Eastern Siberian tundra releases significant methane gases, exponentially warming the biosphere. This is just one, albeit significant, snapshot of our collapsing ecosystem that is unfolding everywhere at speed.

Instead of grappling with this deadly diagnosis, we hope if we look away, it will go away. However, as Dharma practitioners, we train ourselves to meet challenges, knowing they have the potential to stimulate awakening from the morass of ignorance. As said the tantrika, Saraha Mahasiddha, “The greater the mental afflictions, the mightier the primordial wisdom. The larger the pile of wood, the greater the blaze (of awakening.)”

As the spell breaks, we start to touch into the enormity of our current reality. We are shifting from an internal narrative of a guaranteed future to the likelihood, in our lifetime, of civilizational collapse and mass extinction, not only of other life forms but of humanity. This actual probability is an extraordinarily challenging internal shift of perception to undergo. Breaking a civilizational meta-narrative is a dangerous moment. Even if we disagree with this shift, it’s happening anyway.

In his book, The Creation of Consciousness, Jungian Edward Edinger says, “the breakdown of a central myth is like the shattering of a vessel containing a precious essence; the fluid is spilt and drains away, and meaning is lost. In its place, primitive contents are reactivated. Differentiated values disappear and are replaced by the elemental motivations of power and pleasure, or else the individual is exposed to emptiness and despair.”

When, as is inevitable, the truth of our situation surfaces more fully into the collective consciousness, we can expect massive reactivity, which in actuality, is already happening in the march of truth as lies, lies as truth, a symptom in itself of a mass psychotic break from reality. Underneath this battleground for the future flow murky streams of raw fear, rage at the loss of power, and terror that the old God of our creation is abandoning us. The stage is set for a harrowing confrontation with our illusions from the force of reality. 

Grappling with our planetary reality, for me, is an ongoing journey cycling through panic, despair, grief, fear, anguish, wrath, unnameable horror, and all nuances in-between. Lately, I’ve also noticed early life somatic patterning being activated. Here lay fear, frozenness, impotence and isolation. If you find it hard to get mobilized, you’re not alone, especially in these times of Covid loneliness. Amid the urgency, we also have to slow down to metabolize the enormity of where we are so we can stay kind, resourced, and grounded.    

Within this intensifying planetary curriculum running through our personal and collective fault lines, opening up early, epigenetic, ancestral wounds, we can still track each breath into embodied, timeless presence. Rather than being swept away, a mindful relationship to “what is” opens into a freer, more liminal space, where intuitive leaps of creativity and understanding unfold. This free space is a more mapless territory allowing us to navigate by the starlight of inner intuitive guidance. Even just a sliver of spaciousness enables the revelatory light of awareness to shift our assumptions.

The feelings aren’t wrong or some kind of personal failure. They are the immune system of Mother Nature hauling us awake, and they are a barometer through which we track our collective pulse. Mostly though, we are feeling Mother Nature’s heartbreak. She, and therefore, we, are dying, though actually, we are killing her. Her billions of extraordinary life forms, woven together over billions of years, are now weighed by humans, treated as if machines, and sold on Amazon. All the while, the actual Amazon burns down.

Beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Only love can save us from climate change.” I believe this Koan he bequeathed runs straight to the heart of our task, one we can’t decode alone. It will take all of us to fathom this potent bodhisattva protector spirit of fierce compassion permeating our personal and collective souls. Meanwhile, we can hold faith in its power to dissolve obstructions to the long-awaited embodiment of our new story, of which we are the attending midwives. 

Implementing the Buddha’s “right action” and Saraha’s turning poison to nectar, together, we have the power to go against the stream of division, hate, and destruction. Rather than being pulled into the vortex of despair, let’s pick up the challenge and focus on the work at hand. We are all in the monastery now, simplifying, prioritizing, and keeping our Dharma eye on that guiding night star that shone on the night of the Buddha’s enlightenment and still illuminates our onward path through its subtle promptings of the heart.    

The Buddha said, “one who has nothing to serve lives unhappily,” pondering what to serve, he understood it is the Dharma. This service always includes uplifting and sustaining the welfare of all beings. Still, we overlook the centrality of this greatest of beings, Mother Nature, who was, after all, the only being that could fully affirm the Buddha’s awakening. We owe everything to Her, so now it’s our time to heed Her call for help. PAEAN is our response to that call.

We hope PAEAN will inspire, help gather, and support small local, and online, groups engaging climate action that will collectively interlink with global initiatives working for the same outcome. Motivated by the tremendous legacy of faith-based social revolutionaries, our approach is grounded in a wise and compassionate practice. We invite you to join us!

Thanissara 1.24.22


Code Red: A World in Free Fall Calls Us to Rise Up


Each day intensity builds as climate disasters, biodiversity collapse, and a sharp rise of authoritarianism hollows out the stability of our lives. At the same time, we’re navigating the exhausting complexities of a politically weaponized Covid world with its tangled knot of discord fracturing fault lines in families, friendships, and communities.

What is being unveiled is the systems we live within, including our mental and emotional constructs, are ill-equipped to manage such an onslaught. Altogether, it seems we’ve slid into a state shift where the old Global order is moving into free-fall. Every day we feel the overwhelm, exhaustion, and disorientation of a civilization unable to sustain its contradictions, like the myth of endless growth triggering mass extinctions.

UN global climate poll in Jan 2021 revealed two-thirds of people worldwide think climate change is a global emergency. It states, “the voice of people is clear – they want action on climate change.” This is an extraordinary shift from decades of relegating our cataclysmic dilemma to the fringes. It’s even more likely this percentage swelled with the UN Code Red Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report released in August ’21. This groundswell of alarmed citizens represents a significant global awakening, which, if mobilized, can radically dismantle the status quo that is destroying our living systems.  

Underwriting a possible paradigm shift within the broader collective is another growing realization. Our extractive worldview, built on human primacy over nature and embedded within oppressive hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, is predominately fabricated to enable the transference of immense power and wealth to a tiny minority. This long-played dynamic has perpetually left the majority world scrambling to survive. 

The recent spectacle of white, male, sociopathic billionaires competing to project themselves out of Earth’s orbit in phallic-shaped space-crafts perfectly exemplifies the narcissistic sociopathy of predator patriarchy. Their plundering ego dominance, built on the backs of a vast, exploited workforce shackled to a ruthless machine of endless productivity and consumption, is not inspiring. Instead, their offensive enterprise strikes me as demonstrating the spluttering corpse of predator capitalism, which now bequeaths only dead ash in its wake.

However, even with mountains of evidence in plain sight proving that billionaires and governments are woefully unresponsive to the urgency of this moment, most of the population is still distracted and frozen in a trance. In a recent article, ecological philosopher, activist, and former XR Strategist Rupert Read was asked, 

What could be the trigger that could take the environment movement to the next level? 

It’s on the imminent horizon – Cop26. It’s going to be a huge wake-up call. After the terrible weather and the ‘code red’ IPCC report, the huge wake-up call is going to be when the world realises that the world’s so-called leaders are definitively not coming to the rescue.

So, here we are, in an apocalyptic time. All in the shadows is now unrelentingly spotlighted. There seem few places left to hide. Instead, our psychic boundaries are eroding under the force of an overwhelming toxic influx from our collapsing world, swirling into a gathering force, like the weather, flooding and burning as it rushes through our nervous systems.

She, it seems – Pachamama, the spirit of Mother Nature – is breaking free and puking all out into the open. With her wildness erupting, flooding, burning, freezing, melting, you’d think governments would be mobilizing on a massive scale. Instead, we’re stuck with the likes of patriarchal dinosaurs battening down their Gilead fantasy, as in Texas, while unleashing hate and fear, like heat guided missiles, trying to control any movement outside their narrow scope. No wonder we feel crazed.

We also feel scarily undone as the tectonic plates of our world spin beneath us. What we thought was solid and real is revealing how little we know of Reality itself. But just maybe, while falling apart, we are moving toward a core recalibration.

The way I see it, as time, space, and future collide into the increasing intense gestalt of now, it’s as if we entered a collective shamanic journey. What we thought was separated out from us through the mind’s endless demarcations of “other” now vibrantly appears in this one heaving consciousness made up of billions of tiny sparks of intention, action, and reactivity as the pressure of 5,000 years of Patriarchal history divorced from Mother Nature spews its lethal guts over us all. We can try and pick up the pieces. Or we can walk into another space and sit together in a circle.

There is a beloved circle that we are, outside the walls of conformity, where a storehouse of untamed dreams will decolonize our minds.

As shamans, we have left the ordered and expected human world and are undergoing dismemberment. In the process, we are traversing beyond all the known frames of reference. It’s so dreadful it makes us queasy. We forget what’s what and are often terrified, fearful, depressed, lost, sad, raging. Yet within this strangely disorientating journey, there waits a gift. A potent potential. An alchemical stone there for us to pick up.

In this free fall, we are swimming the unchartered flow of consciousness itself, plunging to the core, into a light nucleus that at the same time is here, there, everywhere, without centre or circumference. Wherever we touch is conscious-being-presence. Unbounded, creative, a bubbling spring birthing forth a matrix of light manifesting as matter.

It is here, intersecting this timeless presence with attention and intention at the point of emergent manifestation, that we can energize quantum shifts. “Mind,” said the Buddha, “precedes all things.” Here, we can bow and pay due homage while awakening into choosing a very different way. A pathless leap empowering us to seed, manifest, activate, and enable a world guided by the core impulse of love at the heart of all in service of all.

At this dangerous moment, we can’t grasp the kaleidoscope. There are just too many moving parts that are overwhelming us. But we can steady, ground and embody our authentic potential with each breath. We can prayerfully and ceremonially call on body, heart, and soul at cellular and ancestral levels to renounce collusion and perpetuation with patriarchal dominance rooted in disdain and severance from the life-nourishing feminine soul within the heart of nature. 

So, take some time to write out all your agreements with the hierarchies of patriarchal power that instil violence, abuse, and manipulation to control, exploit, and oppress. Feel each line in your list within the somatic patterning of your body. Then, withdraw your energy from the ways we all habitually, unconsciously and consciously collude.

For sure, it’s an exacting task, withdrawing from our colonized constructed illusion of human superiority controlling everything. But She is taking this sleight of hand down to the ground, burning up our oil-made comforts and crashing our twinkling, electrically fuelled civilization. With one of her tears, she can unleash a roaring hurricane shredding a waterlogged path from Louisiana to New York in a few hours. We must indeed be left in no doubt. We humans are not in control in the ways we thought we were.

We’re on notice. So, let’s pause and prepare ourselves inwardly for the challenge. It’s time to simplify. It’s time to renounce the driven exhaustion of predatory capitalism that leaves division, deprivation, and destruction in its wake. This old story is finished, with its tiresome and deadly perpetuation of misogyny, homophobia, racism, sexism, imperialism, nationalism, white supremacy, specism, and all ways that hold others or any part of Mother Nature’s creation as inferior.

Dance, sing, play music, write poetry, breathe more fully, meditate and free body, mind, heart, and spirit from the ancient controlling mechanisms of fear, shame, guilt, lack of worth, violence toward self and others. Let go withholding the nourishment of Her eros life-pulse. Release from the tight biblically instilled religious-social conditioning passed from generation to generation. Trust Her empowering arrow ever moving to its mark, opening hearts to taste the blissful love flowing through Her creation.

There is another way here. Our heart-pulse prayer can align with mother nature’s indwelling spirit, ever embracing the light of illumination manifesting this universe. 

A deathless awareness can travel with each breath, grounding mind, soothing body, connecting soul, and enabling our authentic truth-telling rewired brain to free us from allegiance to this old dying world. Free to dream our new story of collaborative stewardship as we return to the root, reach to the stars and walk with the songs of whales, eagles, hummingbirds, and our indigenous ancestors.

Small and big steps within our gathering community of renewal mean we no longer serve the empire making machine but instead are devoted to Earth and each other. This is a devotion that requires action. We cannot allow our exquisite home with its myriad life forms forged over billions of years to be hijacked, raped, and murdered. We must transform our inner path of evolutionary consciousness into visible resistance and active radical transformation. 

I see a network of local groups connecting and supporting each other, networking around the globe, as we move out of our silos and help one another unfreeze the immobilized and distracted parts in ourselves and each other. We need to shatter the spell perpetuated by craven media barons, derelict politicians, and deadly corporate interests. We can only do this if people rise together. It’s time for us all to join the heavy lifting and break set, unleashing a chorus of beautiful, authentic, true voices. 

As Rupert Read said, “If our children can go on symbolic (climate) strikes for an hour or day, then why can’t the rest of us?”

Showing up with love for whatever comes next

When I pitched this focus for Sunday’s Livestream on the Ram Dass Foundation platform, I knew we would be sailing stormy seas from here on. But, of course, I did not know we would be navigating the high-noon showdown of Trump’s cult-driven coup with its far-reaching tentacles wrapped around almost every aspect of American life, from its core power structures into the depth of its disaffected psyche.

The last few days, while shocking, are not surprising. Yet, the speed of so much unmasked, while profoundly unsettling, is oddly gratifying. To have made clear and conscious, for so many, the foundational rot within the American project, alongside this moment of clear choice going ahead, feels cathartic.

The journey through Trump has always been, in significant part, about catalyzing an expose of America’s shadow, and within that gaslit, brutish curriculum, an opportunity to clarify where we stand individually, institutionally, collectively, and because the American empire is still a primary power fulcrum globally.

In 2016, just before that terrible election, I wrote a blog warning titled, “Trump, America’s Ebola Virus,” making the point that he was worse than Ebola, which eats away at flesh. In contrast, Trump was about destroying the very soul of America and radically stymying a world on the cusp of marshalling its collective will to tackle the multiple crises that constitute our planetary emergency.

None of us wanted the curriculum for the last four years. Still, it’s been both unavoidable and inevitable, given the unaddressed, unacknowledged, uncompensated grievous injustices the US founded itself on. That, in brief, would be the Eurocentric, Patriarchal, Racist, Imperial, Colonial project.

While we’re not “out of the woods” yet, by any means, we have collectively dodged a dreadful bullet, which is Trump’s Fascist takedown, and with that, a rapid devolving of the higher dream of humanity to which we are called to more fully realize.

We all know time is ticking down on securing any hope of a sustainable path forward. Still, perhaps, we now also irrevocably see that we cannot embody such a course without a core systemic overhaul and a deconstruction of hierarchical oppression.

In a chaotic, distorted way, those baying, pissing, defecating, dressed in cult garb, ransacking the hallowed Capitol, are trying to access some deeper shared initiatory “truth.” Perhaps, some meaning and placement within the failed American dream, from which they probably never felt included.

However, engaging this malcontent through an inversion of all societal norms, without any ethical or wise guide rails, left them wide open to possession by the unprocessed shadow. A ghostly, cold planet where not only rage and hate stalk but also the great demons of the past who have resurfaced in horrific slogans like “Auschwitz Camp Staff / 6 Million Wasn’t Enough.”

With no real, worked out, integrated inner ethic beyond a tribally based, obsessive narcissism, millions, it seems, have been made vulnerable to occultish manipulation and mass delusion. While complicit themselves, they have been taken advantage of by Trump’s psychopathy, by craven politicians, by those peddling conspiracy fetishes, and by media hate mongers, to name some of the primary players feeding off their loyalty.

All of this has delivered a pseudo-culture that is so abstracted from a more profound sense of real, embodied belonging that what is a soulless vacuity is parading as an all-knowing messiah.

This profound loss of bearings, when instead we need to know we belong to each other in a vastly complex, ensouled world, has left a mass of the population in a psychotic break from reality. Unfortunately, just at a time when we need to face hard truths straight on. Instead, encouraged by sociopaths to surf an absurd, alternative universe, where lies are truth and truth is lies, our shared, liveable world is being pulled apart and fast destroyed.

This cultivation of hate and delusion is profoundly consequential, not only for society but also for friendships, families, communities, and institutions. We have all likely been impacted by a twisted agenda that has successfully sown a seemingly irreconcilable division through the fraying fault lines of our relationships.

As I write this, I’m struck that while 2020 was an initiatory year through the shadow and its curriculum, 2021 is about applying what we have learned. If we’ve discovered anything, it is that we cannot reach for our evolutionary arch without undoing the foundations of white supremacy, misogyny, and extractive, predator, oligarchic Capitalism.

Neither can we project all our power onto a President, political and religious authorities, or take refuge down some conspiratorial rabbit hole without deadly consequences. In other words, we have to grow up, and roll up our collective sleeves, and do whatever it is our heart is calling us to do.

So, then. What is showing up with love got to do with all this?
I aim to explore this a little in this Livestream. I’d also like to inquire whether our spiritual practice equips us for the task ahead or enables a massive bypass and an abdication from this decade’s great work.

To pick up the proverbial snake at the wrong end is to deliver a poisoned chalice at a moment when instead, the portal is open for us to take our power back, from wherever we’ve projected it, and marshal ourselves for the task ahead.


Lovecraft country: Meet the US’s DEvilish racial coding

Since watching the last episode “Full Circle” last night, I’ve been trying to find words to do justice to Lovecraft Country, HBO’s horror, Sci-Fi- Magic fest, which is firmly set within America’s Black historic struggle. Instead, I’m undone after a sleepless night roaming the underworld of the US, aware its current election and political dystopia, with its far-reaching noxious tentacles, is actually the sequel of Lovecraft’s 1950s.

Being undone is the agenda of our times. The US is currently being dismembered by the pervasive sulfuric fumes from the horror of America’s ancestral coding of white supremacy and black trauma. The devil’s bargain of Black enslavement, landing on the Eastern shores of Turtle Island (Virginia) in 1619, is now the toxic overwhelm washing up on the shores of our collective karmic reckoning.

Words still don’t come easy, and I’m mindful of them pulling up and away from this necessary undoing through their abstracted descriptions, placating, and attempted solutions. However clearly words describe, they do not reach far enough into our subconscious coding, which is why Lovecraft is actually so very brilliant. It conveys an imaginal, somatic transmission of America’s undigested racial violence and trauma. In doing so, it intends to generate more considerable magic than the spells its characters cast within the story.

Lovecraft’s power is in its use of liminal transmission to break the spell of racist coding by viscerally taking us into its incestuously raped, bloodthirsty, horror-filled heart. It’s a hard, unnerving watch because it loads a full armory with its archetypal, wildly potent metaphor and aims its terror at the heart of white psychosis.

As someone in a white body, the impact is primal. This undoing is a journey into dislodged cellular energetic holding, a vulnerable, wobbly disorientation, and a wave of un-named grief that can’t be cried out. It’s a waking night filled with demons and an entering into how this viral download of “whiteness” lives afloat in a partitioned, monochrome picture frame, oblivious of the unleashed roaming fear beasts that keep control.

The monsters in Lovecraft very well depict the unavoidable disease of ancestral trauma that continually re-infects through the subliminal coding of extreme fear, made visible in the relentless sinister threat and sadistic violence used by Lovecraft’s keepers of segregation.

The practice of satanic occultism by White power, a primary Lovecraft theme, is not as fictional as it first appears. It tells us that white supremacy itself is a form of occult shadow magic, honed through intent, focus, and incanted generational memes that hold enormous enduring power. In the end, the fear, violence, and psychosis infect everyone. This is obvious in the full-blown disaster of Trumpian America, itself a vicious diseased beast that knows no holding. 

If Lovecraft tells much about psychopathic whiteness, it also speaks of the fierce courage and generational heroism threaded through Black struggle. The scene in the first episode of the heroine running through a monster-filled forest at night to bring help replicates the terror of the Underground Railroad’s escaping slaves. The courage is enormous. We also see the power of Black ancestors and shamans, as they interact with their living descendants bringing much welcomed sanity, wisdom and protection. 

The Black struggle, however, is not without casualties. While not always directly caused by white people, harm is still at the hands of systemic oppression. Lovecraft deftly brings in the theme of homophobia and its internalized violence alongside toxic masculinity with its generational violence. It also paints a nuanced picture of the victim-perpetrator complexity threaded through most of its relationships, which saves Lovecraft from becoming overly simplistic and formulaic. Instead, it offers glimpses into how all are ultimately caught in a larger demonic shape that at its core is violent and degrading.

Nether-the-less, in Lovecraft’s Country, we root for the brave Black heroes and want the ever seeming upper hand of white supremacy, and the terror it unleashes, to be thoroughly undone. To this end, the one vital, central message within Lovecraft is that if there’s a code for white supremacy, then there’s also a code for its undoing.

Like any oppressive system, white supremacy can be hacked and inverted. In Lovecraft’s Country, there is magic for this to be found in the ancestors’ keep and through holding faith that the evil spell of racism can be broken. But the real magic rests ultimately in the human heart’s capacity for love, and it’s the willingness to sacrifice for those who are loved.

This final courage is demonstrated by not running but instead turning to meet the whole coded racist gestalt, in all its complex and terrifying guises. This last act is needed to transmute that raw scream of terror into a code-breaking incantation that dispels the trance. An incantation in our present time that speaks out words in our daylight life, like, “Black Lives Matter.”

Ultimately, Lovecraft Country makes perfect theatre for the times. It doesn’t always take words to understand where we are, and to know that past injustices have brought us here. It is this deeper knowing that ripples into core truths. Lovecraft just underlines this knowing by cracking through the veneer of US normality to let us see why this moment in American history is precisely the way it is. It is in this seeing that the call to reparation lay.

We may not be able to fully crack the codes of oppression, but we stand a better chance of doing so when, as Lovecraft inducts us into, we are willing to be taken through a journey that makes the unconscious conscious. 

Stop Fascism. Vote for Nature, RBG, Equity And Justice

I want to pause for a moment, soften around my tightening chest to breathe deeply. We have reached a terrifying moment here in the US. The fear and dread we feel confirm how dangerous it is. This was not an easy write. It’s nothing you don’t know, or sense already, but we must all keep naming truths. To name facts is an act of resistance against fascism. I aim to call in truths, as I see them, to support the final push these last weeks before the watershed of this election. 

The journey of naming exorcises Trump’s defiling influence by placing his psychopathy and fraud under the spotlight. Speaking truth breaks the spell. It has power. It affirms what we are voting for. Our vote is our voice expressing that power.

The news of the New York Times bombshell of Trump’s Tax evasion (surprising no one), revealed his pimping of the U.S. to manage his bankruptcy and debt. It also broke the spell. As did his crashing the debate, employing the same venomous, bullying tactics he’s using to crash democracy.

As the spell breaks, I remember when the Communist block, which seemed impenetrable, fell so unexpectedly. I saw the moment on TV when Nicolae Ceausescu, the brutal Romanian dictator, realized the crowd he bussed in had turned against him. Standing on his balcony, it was the look on his face when he knew it was all over that stayed with me. Trump is a wannabe dictator. Aided by the GOP, he is grooming America for their Fascistic Theocracy. But he will fall; let’s do all we can to make sure it’s this November.

This is a treacherous moment for America. Trump’s calling on the white nationalist Proud Boys to take up arms is his last best strategy. Trump, and his use of brute violence, should not be underestimated, but neither should, “We the People.”  We the people are not about to let freedoms won through extraordinary acts of courage like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s, be signed away.

Ruth worked on through multiple cancer diagnoses, chemo, radiation, broken ribs, her beloved husband’s death, and she didn’t stop until her last breath. Let’s be Ruth leading up to this election, adding our courage to the lineage of warriors and change-makers. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the willingness to stand our ground. As RBG lived, speak you mind, even if your voice shakes. 


  The Threat to Equal Rights
The untimely death of RBG was crushing. The loss of such a bastion of justice, whose unrelenting fight for universal rights not only underlined the colossal stakes of the coming election but also plunged the country ever deeper into the bottomless, mendacious chasm forged by the GOP. Hardly did we take a breath before Trump, McConnell, and their attack hounds denied due decency that such a passing demands by announcing their intention to ram through a new supreme court justice. Their hypocrisy is just one more assault thrown on the mountainous pile of craven strategies to upend democracy and abandon America to their daily diet of gaslight, shredded reality. 

In replacing RBG, Trump and the GOP aimed for a likely destroyer of hard-won rights, attempting to whiplash us back decades, overturning everything RBG fought for. According to the New York Times, Trump’s nominee, Amy Comey Barratt, is a member of an extreme Christian sect, the People of Praise. They teach, “husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family.” They also mandate that “members are accountable to personal advisors called a “head” for men and “handmaiden” for women.” The GOP’s use of a female judge to devolve us into theocratic patriarchy would be in line with their decades-long hateful attack on women’s rights to their own autonomy. Barrett’s nomination is the GOP’s revenge on RBG and, therefore, all women. It is also the clearest statement that the GOP has devolved into a theocratic, dogmatic cult. 

Neither does this nomination bode well, given Trump’s ban on diversity training, race theory, and education on the US’s racist origins, for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Also in danger is the Marriage Equality Act as attests Barrett signing a letter to Catholic bishops that “marriage is founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.” Most likely, the first casualty, if her appointment succeeds, will be the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of Americans afloat in the middle of a pandemic. Without a shred of empathy, destroying the best of Obama’s legacy is Trump’s revenge. 


Trump’s Nazism & QAnon
Trump’s presidency has incrementally pushed us into a war. It’s taken a while to accept, here in the land of “American Exceptionalism.” Yet, here we are, confronted by a disturbing mix of society’s extremists galvanizing themselves under the banner of Trump’s Army, many showing up with QAnon insignia. Trump endorsement of QAnon chills those who know it’s a recycled anti-Jewish trope, written in 1902 as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Nazi’s reproduced its central lies, kidnapped children, the anti-Semitic “blood libel,” and a devious conspiracy against the white race, to mobilize their “Storm Troopers,” helping Hitler rise to power.

Fast-forward to now and the Texan Republican Party’s new slogan “We Are The Storm” reveals their allegiance to Nazism. Concerned founder of Genocide Watch, Gregory Stanton, has this to say about QAnon, I have studied and worked to prevent genocide for forty years. Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide, the first international anti-genocide coalition, see such hate-filled conspiracy theories as early warning signs of deadly genocidal violence.

Trump is no ordinary Banana Republic President. With concentration camps cemented on the Southern border, Trump is weaponizing himself as Hilter’s heir. Trump’s “evil genius” is his ability to induce a spell-like trance, so people whose violence and hatred was held in check by social mores have permission to project their raw emotions on whoever Trump scapegoats. Carl Jung spoke of how the archetypal power of the unconscious could overwhelm civilization, causing a mass psychosis that can lead to genocide. A demagogue, evoking primitive instinctual forces in the masses, who have no possibility to transform those instincts, could “sweep everything before them like a torrent, and turn men into creatures for whom the word “beast” is still too good to name.” All it needed was for a demagogue “to set himself up as a megaphone“, which is enough “to precipitate a catastrophe.” 


Trump’s Subversion of American Power & His War on Truth
Trump’s war is psychological. So far, it is not actively militarized, though he toyed with the possibility, as we saw when his violent Militia disappeared people off the streets of Portland. Instead, he has subverted American power to give free license to the worst totalitarian regimes, particularly those he has business dealing with, enabling their war crimes and violations of international humanitarian norms. Trump has lent American power to the Saudi led genocidal war on Yemen. He emboldened the far right in Israel under Netanyahu, helping crush Palestinian rights. Trump delivered up American allies, the Syrian Kurds, to Putin, Assad, and Erdogan and weakened Ukraine’s freedom struggle. Over and again, he undermined the US’s closest allies in Europe in favor of repressive regimes, delivering a blow to democracy around the world. 

Trump’s ascendency in 2016 heralded a new kind of global war. To bring down democracies, like the US and UK, an act that delights nationalistic governments and totalitarian regimes, you don’t need an army. Instead, you need a massive assault on reality. Trump can stand on a presidential podium and state disinfectant cures Covid, which is easy to dismiss as just more inane idiocy in the litany of Trump’s pandemic lies. Good fodder for social media jokes. But then one day, you wake up and find factual information from the US Center for Disease Control has been corrupted into another portal for Trump’s propaganda war. This strategy is how, step-by-step, lie-by-lie, almost all government departments protecting democracy and the environment have been destroyed under Trump. The consequences are measured in real-time deaths. 


To Abandon Facts is to Abandon Freedom
Trump’s war on reality, and his groundless inversion of facts, has been alarmingly effective. Fascists win the war on the truth when people keep quiet. Instead, it’s essential to speak out. The small handbook “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale, offers 20 succinct tips on overcoming fascism while protecting fact-based democracy. Tip 8. Stand Out. “Without unease, there is no freedom. Remember Rosa Parks, the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken.” Tip 10. Believe in Truth. “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, no one can criticize power… the biggest wallet pays for the most blinding light.” 

Trump’s daily mugging of truth to build his rotting castle of lies inverts an effective response to the enormity of a mortal threat out striping every other peril faced by humanity. The dire impact of our heating biosphere and the immense on-going collapse of bio-diversity is speeding up. From California’s firestorms to an enormous ice melt in Greenland, the effects are clear examples of what is now impossible to ignore. 

Just as Trump unleashed violence against American citizens enacting their First Amendment rights, he will have no qualms about unleashing climate genocide. It dovetails into the Nazi theory of “race hygiene,” which he touted at his recent rally to a white audience in Minnesota. “A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it” Don’t you believe? The racehorse theory,” Trump said. “You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.” Far-right ethno-nationalists see global warming as a rallying point for protecting white supremacy while abandoning the rest of the world. All Trump needs to do to inflame and energize eco-fascism is to repeatedly promote climate denialism, block an urgent response, and deregulate all environmental protections. 


Trump’s Tactics Stifles Response to Threat
On September 17th (2020), New York installed a clock in Manhattan’s Union Square that counts down the time remaining to avert climate disaster, which is about seven and a half years. When the clock runs out, global temperatures will have moved to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. At this point, many natural systems begin to traverse points of no return, transforming life, as we know it. Living in or near evacuation Zones in the last three years, as fires storms raged around us in California, demonstrated how extreme weather events reduce normal life to continual crisis management. It’s simply not possible to function well when in shock. 

Trump continually activates trauma and shock in the population to maintain control by destabilizing the norms of civil society. Keeping attention diverted and people unbalanced, as they try to deflect the daily round of abusive tweets, incoherent ramblings, and sadistic pronouncements, is his weapon for overturning the moral order. Trump’s shock tactic is immobilizing America’s ability to strategize a coherent response to the climate threat. His attack on science, progressive education, bi-partisan collaboration, and democracy sets the stage for the US to deteriorate into violent tribalism and inhumanity in the face of our unraveling world. 


The Battle for Earth
In the battle for Earth, the immediate front line is the upcoming US election. We are in a dire struggle for America’s soul and what kind of future it will shape for itself and the world. Under Trump, the conditions have been created not only for fascism, civil unrest, perhaps even civil war, but he has also tacitly endorsed the rise of nationalistic governments. These tend to be the least willing to tackle climate change, demonstrating what happens in the US still vastly influences the rest of the world. 

Trump’s unrelenting cudgel against truth has drastically subverted the moral imperative globally, sabotaging decisive action needed to curtail descent into civilizational collapse. One of Trump’s first heinous acts ensured that at lightning speed, hope from the Paris Climate Accord, which passed on November 4th, 2016, was turned to dust. Trump’s ripping it up severely undermined the possibility of global collaboration. Instead, it gave a green light for psychopathic leaders and predator capitalists to throw the world into a sickening battle for our collective survival. 

In the wake of this, despite the herculean efforts of multiple climate movements, mass demonstrations, and the IPCC report of October 2018 (by 91 scientists from 40 countries who received over 6000 references and 42,000 experts, peer-reviewed publications), we are witnessing a growing psychotic break from our urgent reality. 

This break is not an accident. It is a deliberate strategy generated by some powerful players in the political, media, banking, and corporate worlds, alongside fossil fuel and animal agro-factory interests that continuously spawn and nurture a denial culture. Instead of using their goliath powers for the common good, they hide their malignancy by deflecting attention from themselves while sowing confusion and division. These are the untouchable “high priests” of the Church of Power and Greed. They generate a storm of media misinformation, climate denial propaganda, and manipulative green-washing memes to obfuscate the facts. 


The Forces Using Trump
Climate denialist and kingmaker, Rupert Murdoch, has merged Trump into his 24-hour right-wing network Fox News and his all-pervasive global media machine. Two men of no morals in a transactional deal giving Murdoch an extraordinary degree of influence over America’s democracy, and Trump the means to cement his cult following. 

In the face of such a swift descent into a shadowy mire orchestrated by political arsonists and their enablers, it’s clear those of us holding and working for the higher dream of a green, sustainable, just, and equitable future are losing the battle. We turn up with science-based data, loving-kindness, wise mindful practices, and passion to implement workable solutions. While those determined to control the planet’s destiny, grabbing whatever spoils left for themselves, turn up with billions of dollars, media empires with tentacles into the highest reaches of power, and a nuclear arsenal. In their wake are battalions of lawyers, lobbyists, think tanks, and data mining companies distilling mass information into psychological profiling to drive opinion and manipulate behavioral change. 

We see the results in our teetering democracy, and in the deregulated environmental protections radically changing Earth’s landscape, drying up aquifers, decimating rainforests and wildlife, poisoning rivers and lakes, all for the sake of power and profit. Those driving this ecocide are, for the most part, completely unaccountable. 

The motivation for this unrelenting attack on mother nature, whether evangelical rapture, owning the planet, sitting it out on Mars or in a bunker in New Zealand to take what’s left, leads to only one possible conclusion. Immoral narcissistic criminals and psychopaths are currently controlling the destiny of the planet. 

They care absolutely nothing for sustaining a living Earth. They care only for themselves. Some don’t even care for their children. Murdoch ruthlessly pitted his two sons against each other from their childhood as rivals for his empire. This coterie of transactional, pitiless wheelers and dealers, who know the facts and don’t care, are the men that are willing to let the world crash and burn. They don’t mind that our exquisitely beautiful mother in all her gracious abundance is being doomed to become a barren desert devoid of life, wandering cold space, and weeping for her death at human hands.

Perhaps that sounds extreme, but the impact of global warming, which is unraveling the web of life, has left Mother Nature fighting to survive. We read ecosystems are “dying.” But nature isn’t “dying.” She is being killed. While conscious lifestyles are, of course, critical, it’s not the average person, trying to recycle, reduce energy consumption, and animal products that are holding a knife to Her throat. 

Primarily it is extractive, predatory corporations crashing through pristine ecosystems and indigenous lands, destroying everything in their path. From the US, Russia, and China vying for the Arctic, to the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada, to India’s Adani’s massive coal mine in Australia, an environmental nightmare that aims to steal 270 billion liters of groundwater, for free, over 60 years. 

Many of these companies, further enabled by Trump’s “Tax Acts and Jobs Act,” pay O% tax, including Chevron who was party to one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters. An oil dump roughly 30 times the Exxon Valdez spill in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They never cleaned up or paid damages. 


Biden’s Green New Deal Up Against Trump
In the coming election, Biden, in alliance with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, has unveiled a $2 trillion energy plan firmly focused on the Green New Deal agenda fronted by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. This is not the moment to give a vote to Trump because we don’t approve of Biden, the Democratic Party centralists, or because of ideology. A vote for Biden, Kamala Harris, and the DNP is a vote to stop fascism and a step toward a workable, survivable future. It’s as simple as that right now. I am on my knees to beg against throwing a vote to Trump by punching the ticket of a 3rd Party candidate. 

By contrast, Trump is a vote for chaos and death. He is the perfect vehicle for extractive predator capitalism. His turning the Environmental Protection Agency into the Environmental Predatory Agency and his sadistic assault on wildlife delivered yet more blows to decades of hard work to secure protections for nature. While the majority world is grappling with climate change, Trump is doing the exact opposite. McConnell’s defense of Citizen’s United in 2018, a ruling that put democracy up for sale, ensures interest groups can buy political power and plunder at will.


Patriarchy’s Last Gasp: The GOP’s Kakistocracy (rule by the worst.)
This week Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. In response, Bernie Sanders stated, “This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win.” The GOP is using Trump to push through their archconservative agenda. To do that, they are abandoning democracy. 

Trump is their perfect vehicle to bring about that end. Regardless of how egregious his lies or how dangerous his actions, a racist and misogynistic GOP have utterly failed to restrain him. Instead, they are destroying the government and replacing it with rapture intoxicated and extreme “Christian” theocrats, criminals worthy of the Mafia, and Trump’s cold, heartless, thieving nepotistic relatives. All buddies, it seems, of Putin’s poisonous reach. This craven Kakistocracy personifies the dinosaur of patriarchy’s last gasp. They have only one reptilian drive. To control and loot by the use of all means foul. In their necrotizing march for domination, they have set the stage for mass upheaval and death, gruesome migrations, and unimaginable suffering. 

In the figure of Trump himself, we see the personification of a graceless, heartless, cruel, and sadistic destroyer of the best of human nature, disabling the higher dream of humanity, so needed to guide these times, at every turn. Trump’s vacuous soul makes him a perfect vessel for those propagating the decade’s long war on the truth of anthropocentric climate change to deadly effect. We cannot let such a depraved man determine the destiny of so much.


Truth is Truth
Regardless, however, truth is truth. Global collaborated science lays bare the brutal reality before us. We have almost no time to turn around this nightmarish trajectory. We also have virtually no time, and few moves left to stop Trump and his decrepit fascistic, supremacist, misogynistic political coup. 

By now, it’s clear how dangerous Trump’s psychotic cult is. It’s also clear we cannot afford to descend further another four years of Trump’s barbarism. We also know there’s a radically different new world trying to be born that we must lend every effort to midwife and protect. However, where we falter is galvanizing mass mobilization to preserve our beloved Earth. But if democracy starts to fall in November, we must take courage and mobilize. 


Meeting the Challenge
If your heart is breaking with all this, you’re not alone. But, that is better than entering this critical decade of the 2020’s asleep. In the Ayurvedic medicinal model, which inspired the template for the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, the first step to overcoming suffering and ignorance is to diagnose the sickness. The second step is to meet the illness directly rather than hoping it will magically disappear. It tends to be easier to diagnose the problem than activate the third and fourth steps, which are finding the cure and applying the remedy. The difficulty is that however harmful the circumstance, our default mechanism habitually resists change. To cure ourselves, we have to clear out any last illusions and commit fully to the remedy. 

My primary Buddhist influence, the Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah, said, “when you can’t escape, you can’t go up, down, or to the side then the real practice begins.” When up against a wall with no apparent means of escape, there is no other option than to face the challenge directly. 

With the challenge of Trump, it’s important to remember that the point of malignant narcissism, which is Trump’s mental disposition, is to create victims and render them powerless. Unrelenting abuse is a tactic to ingrain the belief in beleaguered minds that an all-consuming ascendency of evil is unstoppable. 

Therefore, the initial battle, to counter his toxic virus, is an inner one. However much we wobble, we must energize and bring to life our inner warrior who stands for truth. For that, it’s helpful to focus on what we are fighting for and against. We fight for a sustainable, just, equitable, and compassionate society. We fight against patriarchy, the umbrella dominator system within which all other oppressive systems exist and thrive. 


The End of Vampire Trump
Trump, like Hitler, is a vampire. He feeds off hate, fear, violence, and the pain he inflicts through his unrelenting, cruel abuse. The destructive power of Trump, extracted from the shadow energies he unleashes, is dangerous, catastrophic, and overwhelming. His weakness, though, is that he believes himself to be invincible. However, the power Trump is tapping into is not enduring. Malignant energies ultimately consume those wielding them. One way or another, Trump will be defeated. It’s inevitable. The question is how much damage will he inflict in the process, so we must do all we can to end his reign quickly.


Trump, the US’s Mirror
Trump, reflects America’s violent and racist psychotic shadow. He is like the decrepit, twisted, ugly portrait in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Gray, the leading character, exchanged his soul for youth, indulging his every impulse. He is seductive and charming. However, his sinister deeds, reflected in the ever-fouling portrait in his attic, states the truth of who he is. Whatever happens to Trump, he has underlined the extreme urgency of working for a more just and equitable society. 


Another Kind of Power 
There is another kind of power, which endures. The power of the human spirit, with its ingenuity to overcome challenges regardless. This spirit is capable of extraordinary achievements. It can marshal love and compassion and has a yen for truth. The truth eventually wins out. Lies do not. The power of love, as the Buddha stated, overcomes hate. “This is the eternal law.” Love isn’t weak. It endures beyond time and space. After all, isn’t that the central message of Christ? Not bibles to bash people, or guns. Wasn’t unconditional love his real power?

In Buddhist lore, the guardian of the world is conscience. It can discern what is harmful and what is not, and fears wrongdoing. These all are superpowers, alongside so many others, that we employ at this time. We saw these powers at Standing Rock. The Elders invited People of Prayer from all over the world to join them in their act of resistance. At dawn on those cold frozen lands, every day began with honoring ancestors, invoking protector guides, and offering prayers to the spirits of the Missouri River. 

We, too, can create a shrine to Mother Nature with representations that inspire. We can set the alarm and get up earlier, and like RBG, do some strengthening exercises. We can align with the warrior lineage of justice, truth, and love for Earth and all. We can offer prayers for all. The Elders at Standing Rock said their prayers are for everyone, even those fighting against them. This is the superpower of the heart. 

We can make daily offerings, so our shrine is a supportive space for contemplation. Every day, we can vow to serve as Her protector and the protector of the human realm. In doing so, we join the Great Spirit’s lineage, the deep intelligence of mother nature, and the intuitive impulse of reality itself.


Put On Your Warrior Cloak
We are here to heed the call. It’s time to midwife the beautiful new world of our higher dream. Let’s not dream small. Instead, keep that higher dream alive and assert its reality, over and again, and not doubt it.

Let’s put on the warrior’s mantel and get to work. We, the majority, join the spirit and struggle of Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Greta’s School Strikes, Extinction Rebellion, and all non-violent Resistance Movements. 

Let’s do everything we can to stop Trump and the GOP, and overturn all they stand for by delivering a Democratic landslide. And, most important, let’s keep naming the truth of what is happening. It undoes the lies of fascism and it gives courage. 

So, let’s roll up our sleeves for this last push. Let’s follow the example of RBG and to fight to the end.

Let’s do this because a revolution is at hand.


Thanissara, 9.28.20 

Guardians of the Sacred Prayer Circle for Peace. Join us for a daily online gathering for protective mantras, chants, meditation during this election cycle. The focus is to contribute to a frequency of safety and wellbeing for all, dedicated to protecting goodness, wisdom, and compassion, and dispelling the forces of harm, division and delusion. DETAILS HERE

Ghost Meditation

This is a poem that arose from grief post the August fire storms around our home, here in Northern California, and all fires storms, literal and metaphorical, around the world, where so much is being lost in these times. It honours the journey of grief as an initiation into the mysteries of the heart’s love.

Beneath distraction, anger, fear, dread, and paralysis of facing down the enormity of our times, lay the deeper river of grief that records our losses. Once felt and journey’d through, it’s possible for the clearer, warrior energy to rise that continues the fight for protection of a compassionate world that can offer fairness, justice, and safety to all.

May peace and wise action prevail at this time.

ghost meditation

There is a landscape
beneath the push, the pull
the taut face turned into a wall.

There is a distant sea
where the sail ship,
chartered by winds of loss,
carries your hurting soul…

that buttoned down
defence of a hopeful future.

Here lives a musical box
of wailing hearts
waiting for your presence
to enter their memory hall.

Meet the ghosts…
lost to the fires of annihilation
the Covid dead roaming,
the psychotic war dogs unleashed.

They all wail at the empty feast
served in the valley of loss.

They surf the rip tide
where litanies
list the losses
echoing up from
lattice grids shut down
over the cargo of our long gone pieces.

While silent ash
of burnt forests
charred animals
birds dashed to earth,
billions of tiny workers of evolution
houses, cars, and life dreams …

Algorithms march those confused
into the razor vortex
of truth is no more.

Fragments of countries,
families, friends,
swirl like ash storms
from fallen worlds
disintegrating our beleaguered minds.

The dark red sky at midday
‘you cannot live here anymore.’

We are now all queued refugees
from America’s strangeness.

In the gaping void
monsters rush in.

Float anyhow in your tear filled body.
Allow your aching chest,
gasping to hold
the karmic storehouse
of wounds,
to soften even more…

As you sail into shore
to meet the ancient siren
of ancestors grief,
your grief,
and all our grief
at this
nearing last station,
of our world’s end.

thanissara – sept 15th, 2020

I share this profound and haunting musical study on grief, composed by Nick Cave honouring the loss of his 15 year old son due to accidental death.