Friday, June 27, 2014

Climate Crisis and Sustainability Meltdown: Humanity at the Crossroads, Which Way Will We Turn?

Remedios Varo - Premonition (1953)
Here are two insightful perspectives on our current predicament and future prospects. One is from Al Gore. The other is from Noam Chomsky. One is painfully candid, the other is irrepressibly positive. Taken together they articulate the crossroads at which we stand.

In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly. Al Gore, The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate, Rolling Stone, 1-18-14

Chomsky said species destruction had reached the same level as 65 million years ago – when an asteroid hit the earth, ending the period of dinosaurs and wiping up many other species. “It is the same level today, and we are the asteroid,” he said. “If anyone could see us from outer space they would be astonished.” The noted linguist said some sectors of the global population – such as the First Nations in Canada, aboriginals in Australia, and tribal people in India – had tried to slow the march to catastrophe, while others were actively courting disaster. “Who is accelerating it?” Chomsky said. “The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.” He compared this phenomenon to a theory by Ernst Mayr, a 20th-century evolutionary biologist who speculated humans would never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms quickly force themselves into extinction. “Mayr argued that the adaptive value of what is called ‘higher intelligence’ is very low,” Chomsky said. “Beetles and bacteria are much more adaptive than humans. We will find out if it is better to be smart than stupid. We may be a biological error, using the 100,000 years which Mayr gives [as] the life expectancy of a species to destroy ourselves and many other life forms on the planet.” But Chomsky remained hopeful that the corporate elite could be overthrown before they bring on environmental disaster, citing historical examples of mass movements that returned power to autonomous collectives. -- Travis Gettys, Noam Chomsky on Human Extinction: The Corporate Elite are Actively Courting Disaster, Raw Story, 1-18-14

Will we chose to continue on this road to ruin and madness?

Or we will we change course and advance toward a humane, sustainable future?

How many of us even realize that this choice is ours to make and enforce?

Imagine if Gore had been sworn into the Presidency he was elected to in 2000.

Imagine if Chomsky appeared on CBS Fork the Nation, NBC Meat the Press, ABC This Weak with George StopandLaughAtUs as often as the Shell-of-a-Man-Formerly-Known-as-John-McCain.

Oh well.

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Richard Power is the author of nine books, including User's Guide to Human Incarnation: The Yoga of Primal Reality, Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril and Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself. Power writes and speaks on spirituality, sustainability, human rights, and security. He blogs at Words of Power. He also teaches yoga.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why Do You Step onto the Yoga Mat?

Yoga: Art of Transformation Exhibit, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California, May 2014

Why do you step onto the yoga mat? For joy? For peace? For clarity? For healing? For spiritual awakening? For vanity? For a buzz? To feel dialed in? To relieve stress? All of these are valid reasons. Any one of them could serve as the catalyst for profound change.

On the yoga mat, you encounter all five of your bodies, and enter into intimate relationships with each of them. You realize that functions and faculties previously taken for granted are, in fact, miraculous siddhis. On the yoga mat, you also come face to face with your own shadow. All of your fear, anger, grief and confusion will rise up. And you release each one into the fire, to be transmuted into something greater. For as long as there is light, there will be shadow. So if you embrace it, you will have your own inexhaustible source of clean energy.

On the yoga mat, you realize (sooner or later) that you are kneeling at the throne of the Universe itself, and holding an offering basket in your hands. This basket contains the vastness of all space, together with the richness of all life on this and every other planet.

In that moment of revelation, you will understand that you are both offering and receiving this gift. But you will not be able to explain the moment to anyone. Ever. However many times you try. 

Yes, stepping onto the yoga mat, you triangulate these three great encounters (i.e., with your bodies, your shadow and the universe itself). This triangulation forms a dynamic matrix, through which human and divine pour into each other ceaselessly, and consciously, transforming both present and future. 

This is the truth.

-- Richard Power

My new (ninth) book User's Guide to Human Incarnation, The Yoga of Primal Reality is available now from

Both Sides of the Veil

Mural. Downtown San Jose. May 2014.
It is all love. All love. No beginning to this love. No end to this love.

For those who CHOOSE to have eyes to hear and ears to see.

And yet, yes, there is suffering in this world. There is evil. True yogis, true yoginis, true Tantrikas,
true mystics, true occultists don't bend reality to see evil as somehow not evil or suffering as somehow illusory. True yogis, true yoginis, true Tantrikas, true mystics, true occultists understand that the spiritual truths are paradoxical, and opposites can occupy the same space, e.g., that it is all love, without beginning or end, and that simultaneously, there is evil and suffering. 

This is the truth. It is all love. All love. No beginning to this love. No end to this love. 

For those who CHOOSE to have eyes to hear and ears to see. 

No beginning. No end.
All love. On both sides of the veil.

-- Richard Power

My new (ninth) book User's Guide to Human Incarnation, The Yoga of Primal Reality is available now from

Lineage of No-Lineage

Richard Power and Joe Miller in Golden Gate Park in the early 1980s.
 I respect lineage. And I understand it. But it does not define me, or you, or the truth. 

No lineage can serve as a container for the whole of the truth, or even the whole of a single being's journey into the truth. There are truths that some (not all) of the lineages have sustained over the centuries. There are also some truths that have survived within the lineages, not because of them, but in spite of them. There are even some truths which have only survived because they have lived and flourished in the wild, i.e., outside the lineages. 

Indeed, the secret ingredient itself (the one that makes it all blow apart and come together at once) is one of those that only exists in the wild. 

Yes, I respect authentic lineage. I understand it. Unfortunately, the lineage of no-lineage is not typically respected, or even acknowledged, by those who identify with lineage, and in turn proffer lineage to others. Thus many who follow lineage like a chicken with its beak to a chalk line never learn of the secret ingredient. It is an open secret, accessible to anyone anywhere at any moment.

You have heard it, and even shared it with others, many times whether consciously or unconsciously. So travel the path of lineage if you choose but remember that it does not define you or me or the truth. Remember that lineage itself does not impart authenticity, and that what authenticity there is sometimes exists in spite of lineage, not because of it. 

Meanwhile, the secret ingredient is already in your possession, you could not be here in this world without it; you just have to realize what it really is and who you really are. 

There is a long stretch of your journey in which the only answers that serve you will have to be sought out in the wild.  Out beyond where lineage can lead you.

A Single Planetary Heartbeat

Sonoma, December 2013

When does day end and night begin?  Never. They are only the whirling of a single revolution. They have no separate existence independent of each other or distinct from the whole. They vanish into each other, and re-emerge again in a single planetary heartbeat. 

And within that single planetary heartbeat, they appear at the far ends of the earth in polarity with each other, without ever being divided in the reality of their essential nature, i.e., the ceaseless turning itself. All of human life, the tearing apart, the turning and the tenderness, within a single planetary heartbeat. All whirling. Yes.

-- Richard Power

My new (ninth) book User's Guide to Human Incarnation, The Yoga of Primal Reality is available now from

Dharma is ...

Dancing Dakini, 18th Century, Tibet (Musée Guimet à Paris)
There are different definitions of what Dharma means, but the reality behind the term is inherently indefinable. Dharma is Dharma. The truth of it is rooted in the Meaninglessness from which all meaning flows. Dharma is synonymous with Tao. It simply is, and it is all and nothing at once.

Likewise, in the deepest sense, there is no "Buddhism," there is no "Hinduism," there is only Dharma.  Yes, two great social religions have taken on their odd shapes by coalescing around various concepts, traditions, legends, technologies , etc. related to the Dharma and its realization in human life. And yes, there are distinctions and differences between these two great social religions. But there are also many distinctions and differences between various sects and systems within each one. 

Meanwhile, Dharma is simply Dharma. Synonymous with Tao. 

Someone who tells you that there is any genuine distinction between realization of NO SELF and realization of SELF has not arrived at either.

-- Richard Power

My new (ninth) book User's Guide to Human Incarnation, The Yoga of Primal Reality is available now from

Empty, Inexhaustible

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra manuscript written in the Ranjana script.
India, 12th century. Asia Society. (Wikipedia)
Chenrezig's heart is empty.

Therefore, Chenrezig's love is inexhaustible.

NOTE: Chenrezig (Tibetan) synonymous with Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit), Lord of Compassion, not separate from Tara (Sanskrit) or Drolma (Tibetan), Goddess of Compassion. Legend says, "Tara was born of Avalokitesvara's single tear." But this is just a fairy tale. In the throes of love you cannot tell who is who or what is what. There is only love.

-- Richard Power

My new (ninth) book User's Guide to Human Incarnation, The Yoga of Primal Reality is available now from

All and Only

Krishna Holding Mount Govardhan to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavana from natural disaster.
Attributed to Mola Ram (1760-1833) (Wikipedia)

The gods and goddesses are metaphors. 
The legends of the avatars are just stories we tell ourselves. 

This universe? Our beings? It is all and only energy and consciousness entwined, and spiraling, in an infinite space composed of nothing but energy and consciousness. 

This is the truth.

-- Richard Power

My new (ninth) book User's Guide to Human Incarnation, The Yoga of Primal Reality is available now from