On Connectedness & Reconnecting

posting by Jana

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It's been a long time between drinks, as the saying goes. My last blog post was 31 March - wow. 

What's been keeping me away from the Flourishing Point? Ecozoic Living, of course. 

I have structured my commitment to Ecozoic Living - learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner - around three areas of focus: critical thinking, daily practice, and connecting with others through the Community of the Cosmic Person. Sometimes I can strike a balance of time and energy amongst the three, but at other times one or two areas just sort of take over.

In the past few months, I have been focused on meeting certain deadlines related to my PhD and to completing the training to become a certified nature and forest guide. I have also moved house - selling one and buying another - and paid a visit to family half-way around the world. It's been a busy time. 

The PhD is back to plodding along, the houses have settled (fingers crossed...as of Monday), the family trip is a fond memory, and the guide training is complete. Finally, some space in my brain and my days has opened up for reconnecting with community. 

So let's talk! 

Connectedness, in fact, is a common thread between the critical theory and the daily practice work that's been taking up so much of my time recently. For the PhD, I've been reading new materialism, particularly the work of quantum physicist and philosopher Karen Barad. In her book, Meeting the Universe Halfway: quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning, Barad proposes that beyond everything being connected to everything else, everything brings everything 'else' into existence. There are no pre-existing entities that interact, but rather intra-action itself is the primary reality. The implication is that matter and meaning are co-emergent. Colloquially speaking, we really are 'making it up as we go along', with the 'we' being existence itself including human beings along with everything else. It's the 'along with' that counts, inviting a sense of participation or, as I like to call it, CoFlourishing. 

In terms of daily practice, the forest therapy guide training I've just completed emphasises reciprocity and relationship. Forest therapy is not a matter of going into the woods to get something out of it but rather spending time in nature connecting to self and others, including the non-human others with whom our existence is intricately interwoven. The primary practice is one of presence, invited through a simple question: what are you noticing? A daily practice of living this question sets the stage for participating in the CoFlourishing of people, place, and planet ... together. 

I invite you to 'like' the Facebook page for a nature connection collective that colleagues and I from the forest therapy training group have formed. We share resources and research about the practices of nature connection and post announcements about local forest therapy events. Meanwhile, I also invite you to live the question, 'What are you noticing?' 

Immersed ... and Emerging

after six weeks of picking up new skills and resources for CoFlourishing - we're back!
posted by Jana

 CCP is a partner in delivering a program called Located! Being Onkaparingan - helping people connect to people & planet in their particular place (a  beautiful and naturally diverse region  south of Adelaide, South Australia)

CCP is a partner in delivering a program called Located! Being Onkaparingan - helping people connect to people & planet in their particular place (a beautiful and naturally diverse region south of Adelaide, South Australia)

I've just completed a 6-month practicum in nature and forest therapy guiding. What a journey! The practice is 5-star Ecozoic: it's all about learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner. 

In a series of invitations, participants on a forest therapy/nature connection walk slow down, pay fresh attention with all of their senses, and engage in mindfulness practices that put the focus on reciprocity with nature. 

It's also an amazing practice for CoFlourishing of people, place, and planet ... together. In addition to invitations to experience connecting with nature, participants are invited to connect with one another. After most invitations, the group regathers in a circle to hear from each other, prompted by the simple and open-hearted question, 'What are you noticing?' To listen and be listened to, without judgement and with attention to one's authentic experience, is a not only a gift but also a conscious act of cultural repair. 

The CCP, through my involvement as a Certified Forest and Nature Therapy Guide, is participating in a number of local projects aligned with Ecozoic Living and CoFlourishing. Read more here (and subscribe to the quarterly newsletter if you'd like!) 

Meanwhile, my intention is to be more regular with blog posts now that the extra flurry of busy-ness is past (for the moment). Thanks for your patience while I was immersed in these off-line connections. 

It's a Meaningful Life

meaning-making as a pathway to CoFlourishing - fourth in the series on PERMA
posting by Jana

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What's meaningful? What does it mean to have a meaning - full life? Whatever the actual content of what makes a meaningful life, which is no doubt unique to each person, the fact and act of making meaning is an important part of human flourishing. One could argue that the rest of the structure of what positive psychologist Martin Seligman has identified as components of human flourishing - Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, and Accomplishment (the P, E, R, and A of PERMA) constitute Meaning (the M). 

In the fourth week of the year's first journey into CoFlourishing: people, place, and planet ... together, the daily Cosmic Quotes, rather than suggest what meaning to make of life, offer simple reminders that meaning is there to be made, whatever that 'means' to each of us. 

Monday 22 January 2018
A quote from Alice Walker began the week's focus on meaning and the medium ended up being the message for this one. I was surprised to discover on watching the clip on the YouTube playlist to prepare this summary that the cicadas in the background almost obscured the audio. Good thing the quote was about surprise:

 
Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.
— Alice Walker
 

Tuesday 23 January 2018
It was a noisy nature night again for this quote but being about affiliating with trees a little 'extra communion' with nature seemed fitting. This from Walt Whitman invites reflection on giving attention to what 'is' rather than what 'seems' as a pathway to meaning-making.

One lesson from affiliating with a tree — perhaps the greatest moral lesson anyhow from earth, rocks, animals, is that same lesson of inherency, of what is, without the least regard to what the looker on (the critic) supposes or says, or whether he (sic) likes or dislikes. What worse — what more general malady pervades each and all of us, our literature, education, attitude toward each other, (even toward ourselves,) than a morbid trouble about seems, (generally temporarily seems too,) and no trouble at all, or hardly any, about the sane, slow-growing, perennial, real parts of character, books, friendship, marriage — humanity’s invisible foundations and hold-together? (As the all-basis, the nerve, the great-sympathetic, the plenum within humanity, giving stamp to everything, is necessarily invisible.)

Wednesday 24 January 2018
What are the attitudes required to make meaning? Perhaps an important one is courage. It takes courage to reflect, to question, to experiment, to find out the hard way what matters - what fills us up and what empties us out. Today's quote on courage as:

... a kind of tenacious willingness; an attitude of being willing to try something
from psychologist Peter Fields in a Huff Post blog on 'How to Live a Meaningful Life'
 

Thursday 25 January 2018
Ursula K. Le Guin (October 21, 1929–January 22, 2018), 'a fierce thinker and largehearted, beautiful writer who considered writing an act of falling in love', was celebrated this week on one of my favourite meaning-making resources: brainpickings.org

I love the idea of questioning what is 'spare' time when life can be 'fully and vitally occupied'. 

An increasing part of living at my age is mere bodily maintenance which is tiresome but I cannot find anywhere in my life a time or a kind of time that is unoccupied. I am free but my time is not. My time is fully and vitally occupied with sleep, with daydreaming, with doing business and writing friends and family on email, with reading, with writing poetry, with writing prose, with thinking, with forgetting, with embroidering, with cooking and eating a meal and cleaning up the kitchen, with construing Virgil, with meeting friends, with talking with my husband, with going out to shop for groceries, with walking if I can walk and traveling if we are traveling, with sitting Vipassana sometimes, with watching a movie sometimes, with doing the Eight Precious Chinese exercises when I can, with lying down for an afternoon rest with a volume of Krazy Kat to read and my own slightly crazy cat occupying the region between my upper thighs and mid-calves, where he arranges himself and goes instantly and deeply to sleep. None of this is spare time. I can’t spare it....  I am going to be eighty-one next week. I have no time to spare.
— Ursula LeGuin

Friday 26 January 2018
American poet, critique, essayist, and novelist Laura Riding on thinking rather than just doing.

People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves and so really be themselves try to make up for not thinking with doing.

Saturday 27 January 2018
Letting nature do the talking - how a long horizon invites meaning making, offering breadth for thinking about the self apart so that our doing has depth of purpose.

These were all the quotes for this week on Meaning. What meaning making practices do you employ? Who are your meaning-making companions (in person, in books, in nature?)

Enjoy the journey!


 


The purpose of these journeys via the Cosmic Quotes is to explore what it means to be a Cosmic Person, to live with sensitivity to and conscious awareness that we belong to the universe and that our lives are governed by interdependency, connectedness, and emergence. To be a Cosmic Person is to let this awareness support our wellbeing and direct our decisions and choices such that our lives become about participating in the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth. It's about living a bigger story, a better story, and a beautiful story, the one about falling in love with the Earth over and over again. 

Walking with a Friend

exploring a third pathway to flourishing - positive relationships
posting by Jana

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I suppose it's possible to imagine a genuinely flourishing solitary life, but (almost by definition) I don't know anyone who has accomplished it. It seems rather fitting that the centre point of the PERMA flourishing scheme by Martin Seligman rests on Positive Relationships, given the central role relationships play in most human lives. (Click here for an early journal article about the focus of positive psychology and its connection to human flourishing.)

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
-Raymond Carver 'Late Fragment'

Feeling beloved; be-loving others ...there is a magnitude of flourishing here that is difficult to surpass. And so we journey this week along the pathways of positive relationship. 

Monday 15 January 2018
The week began with a very quick quote but one that stirred a bit of reaction: is there an implied discounting of solitude? Does it seem to suggest that individuation, or being able to find our own way in the world, is not of value? Or, given the source of the quote - Helen Keller - maybe it is simply a remark on the experience of one woman who knew much more viscerally than most how dependent we all are on each other, every step of the way. 

I would rather walk with a friend in the dark then alone in the light. 

Tuesday 16 January 2018
When I think about what 'flourishing' means it has something to do with 'enough', with a sense of having or being enough, of being satisfied. Walt Whitman offers a second stepping stone along the positive relationship path to flourishing that highlights the role of friendship in the sense of 'enough.'

I have learned that being with those I like is enough.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

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The mid-week quote featured a couple of proverbs on friendship, one from Turkey and one from Sweden. 

No road is long with good company.

Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

Thursday 18 January 2018
Traveling a little deeper into the notion of friendship, here's something from John O'Donohue that's alive with contemporary Celtic poetics. 

A friend is a loved one who awakens your life on order to free the wild possibilities within you.

Friday 19 January 2018
Every once in a while it's fun to let nature do the talking and this Cosmic Quote for a week on positive relationships as part of flourishing features human friends in their natural habitat - Friday night drinks and nibbles. 

Saturday 20 January 2018
For the second time this week, a quote is offered that sparks some reaction. What CS Lewis says about friendship may ring true in the sense that friendship does add value to life, but is it really true that it is not necessary for survival? I wonder. 

Friendship is unnecessary like philosophy like art like the universe itself it has no survival value rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.

Sunday 21 January 2018
Returning to the contemporary Irish poet John O'Donohue for our closing remark on positive relationship, this last quote for the week describes a concept of the soul friend, or Anam Cara. 

Love allows understanding to dawn and understanding is precious. Where you are understood you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person's soul. This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person. Love is the only light that can truly read the secret signature of the other person's individuality and soul. Love alone is literate in the world of origin. It can decipher identity and destiny.
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The purpose of these journeys via the Cosmic Quotes is to explore what it means to be a Cosmic Person, to live with sensitivity to and conscious awareness that we belong to the universe and that our lives are governed by interdependency, connectedness, and emergence. To be a Cosmic Person is to let this awareness support our wellbeing and direct our decisions and choices such that our lives become about participating in the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth. It's about living a bigger story, a better story, and a beautiful story, the one about falling in love with the Earth over and over again. 

Getting engaged ... in life

summing up a second pathway into flourishing - engagement
posting by Jana

Jana at the river in forest therapy.jpg

It was our second week focusing on Martin Seligman's five points of human flourishing as pathways to Co-Flourishing of people, place, and planet ... together, which brought us to 'Engagement' as a theme. 

Here's Seligman in a 2011 article talking about engagement: 

The second element, engagement, is about flow: being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity. I refer to a life lived with these aims as the “engaged life.” Engagement is different, even opposite, from positive emotion; for if you ask people who are in flow what they are thinking and feeling, they usually say, “nothing.” In flow we merge with the object. I believe that the concentrated attention that flow requires uses up all the cognitive and emotional resources that make up thought and feeling.
There are no shortcuts to flow. On the contrary, you need to deploy your highest strengths and talents to meet the world in flow. There are effortless shortcuts to feeling positive emotion, which is another difference between engagement and positive emotion. You can masturbate, go shopping, take drugs, or watch television. Hence, the importance of identifying your highest strengths and learning to use them more often in order to go into flow.

'Hence the importance of identifying your highest strengths and learning to use them more often in order to go into flow.' This defining aspect of 'engagement' sent me on a quest for inspiration from people known to have honed their highest strengths: famous writers and elite athletes, for example. 

Monday 8 Jan 2018
As a launch pad for exploring engagement, we started the week with musings on the term's etymology. The word 'engage' comes from the French word for 'to pledge,' which is of course the basis of its association with betrothal and marriage. More generally, however, the word means 'to occupy or attract (someone's interest or attention)' and synonyms include engross and absorb. 

For positive psychologist Lynn Soots, engagement as a component of human flourishing can also take a more generic form:

Engagement can be deep states in which we purposely create an extended period of time that includes a passion such as a hobby, a technique or a skill, and commitment to performance. This is just one aspect of engagement as engagement is not limited to long-term binding activities. Engagement can be a choice to engage in life ... 

I wonder about the mutually enhancing relationship between the two states of engagement: the deeply immersive is a concentrated version that serves as an invitation to imagine how life in general can attract our attention and absorb us in its details, beauties, challenges. And to cultivate engagement in our lives without the pressure of developing an all-engrossing hobby or vocation. As Soots reminds her readers at The Positive Psychology People, flourishing through engagement can also be about being 'open to and willing to initiate, create, and savour experiences that fuel our inner (and outer) wellbeing.'

Tuesday 9 Jan 2018
In the first part of the week, we focused on the immersive sense of engagement, the flow notion of being deeply absorbed in some one particular activity. The first quote of the week was from author of National Velvet fame, Enid Bagnold, who speaks of writing in ways that communicate the sense of being engrossed and absorbed. Interestingly, her craft absorbs her in life. 

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it's the answer to everything ... It's the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it's a cactus.

Wednesday 10 Jan 2018
Athletes are quintessential exemplars of 'flow', and sports philosopher Michael Novak describes the moment of unity (another aspect of definition of engage is to join together or unite as regards parts in machines, which raises interesting points to ponder about the machinery of marriage and the athlete as machine).

This is one of the secrets of sport. There is a certain amount of unity within the self, and between the self and the world, a certain complicity and magnetic mating, a certain harmony that conscious mind and will cannot direct ... the discovery takes one's breath away. 

Thursday 11 Jan 2018
Too engaged (in whatever I was doing?) to post a quote! Practicing what I preach and all that ...

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Friday 12 Jan 2018
Near the end of the week we moved into the more generalised sense of being absorbed in life. Walt Whitman is perhaps the great ambassador of such:

This is what you should do:
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
despise riches, give alms to every one that asks,
stand up for the stupid and the crazy,
devote your income and labour to others, hate tyrants,
argue not concerning God,
have patience and indulgence toward the people ...
re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book,
dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
and your very flesh shall be a great poem. (Leaves of Grass)

Saturday 13 Jan 2018
Today's quote was short and sweet:

I intend to live life, not just exist. 
- George Takei

Sunday 14 Jan 2018
To close the week's focus on engagement, we switched from an implicit understanding of how our own flourishing through engagement enables, conspires with, co-incidences the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth into an explicit naming of this symbiotic relationship: as we are part of life, so our flourishing participates in the flourishing of the whole. 

Mythologist Joseph Campbell invites us to imagine our heroic role in bringing vitality to life by living our own story of vitality: 

The influence of a vital person vitalizes ... People have the notion of saving the world by shifting it around and changing the rules and so forth. No. Any world is a living world if it's alive and the thing to do is to bring it to life. And the way to bring it to life is to find in your own case where your life is, and be alive in yourself. 

Living questions and invitations
arising out of this week's journey into engagement as part of flourishing (as part of co-flourishing of people, place, and planet): 

  • What do you find absorbing? 
     
  • You are invited to imagine your experiences of flow as part of the overall vitality of life. 
     
  • Being engrossed in something you enjoy can feel quite self-indulgent, like a turning away from greater responsibilities and caring for others and the Earth. What do you embrace and what do you resist about the idea that your own vitality is essential to the world's vitality?

What other questions and invitations arise for you when you reflect on engagement? You're invited to share your thoughts and get some discussion going in the comments section. Or here.


The purpose of these journeys via the Cosmic Quotes is to explore what it means to be a Cosmic Person, to live with sensitivity to and conscious awareness that we belong to the universe and that our lives are governed by interdependency, connectedness, and emergence. To be a Cosmic Person is to let this awareness support our wellbeing and direct our decisions and choices such that our lives become about participating in the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth. It's about living a bigger story, a better story, and a beautiful story, the one about falling in love with the Earth over and over again. 

Feeling our way to flourishing

summing up a week on cultivating Positive Emotions as a pathway to co-flourishing
posting by Jana

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The daily Cosmic Quote program on YouTube is off to a fresh start this year with a five-week focus on human flourishing. Due to the inherent interdependency of the universe, human flourishing is integral to the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth (or as we like to call it around here: co-flourishing of people, place, and planet ... together). 

Positive psychologist Martin Seligman identifies five components of human flourishing; flourishing being something beyond happiness and unrelated to 'having it all.'

It might be a good idea at the outset to check in on a dictionary definition of the term 'flourish':

flourish /ˈflʌrɪʃ/
verb
1. (of a living organism) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly congenial environment.

healthy * vigorous * congenial environment - that's what we're talking about! 


The five components of human flourishing identified by Seligman create the acronym PERMA, which is pretty fun given the association with permaculture, a system of looking after people and land with the intent of mutual, permanent flourishing. 

P - positive emotion

E - engagement

R - positive relationship

M - meaning

A - accomplishment

Here is the 'study version' of the journey we undertook in our first week of exploring the theme 'flourishing': positive emotions. You are invited to follow the links for a deeper journey with the theme. 

Monday 1 Jan 2018
After introducing the theme of flourishing and its components, the first positive emotion under the spotlight was gratitude. Gratitude was chosen from a 'top 10' list compiled by Dr Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity. 

Gratitude is the fairest blossom that springs from the soul. Henry Ward Beecher

The question for living as a Cosmic Person arising from this focus is, 'How do you express gratitude in your life as part of your own flourishing? What's your gratitude practice?'

Tuesday 2 Jan 2018
Here's a good one: joy. Read more from Rollo May on the vital difference between happiness and joy.

Joy is an overflowing of inner energies and leads to awe and wonderment. Joy is a release, an opening up; it is what comes when one is able to genuinely 'let go.' Joy is new possibilities ... It is an unfolding of life. Rollo May

Wednesday 3 Jan 2018
Taking up a different tone, the focus for mid-week was on serenity

Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity that nothing is. Thomas Szasz

One of the best lines in the Australian cult classic The Castle forms the question of the day, 'How's the serenity?' 

Thursday 4 Jan 2018
It turned out to be impossible to find a quote about the positive emotion of amusement. It was belittled by most as some sort of lower order emotion. How dull! Why not be counter-cultural and cultivate amusement as a pathway to co-flourishing of people, place, and planet?!  Thanks to Community members for your reports from the field on what amuses you! (scroll the FB group to explore)

Friday 5 Jan 2018
From the Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, Lewis Thomas describes with a certain poetry how the Earth is a source of endless, begging the question for flourishing: What interests you? What keeps you 'awake and jubilant with questions'? 

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Saturday 6 Jan 2018
It seemed appropriate to choose the closely linked emotions of awe and wonder for Epiphany, a Christian holy day commemorating the visit of wise men from the East to the infant Jesus, evoking awe and wonder (Who is this child? What are these gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh?)

Awe and wonder can be responses to what is revealed; revelation being the common use of the term epiphany as in 'to have an epiphany'. 

The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction. Rachel Carson 

The connection between human flourishing and the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth is evoked in this simple note of sagacity by one of the most famous female scientists, known for her close powers of observation of marine ecology as well as her detailed exposé of the harmful effects of the pesticide chemical DDT throughout the entire food chain. 

Sunday 7 Jan 2018
all you need is love ...

The Journey this Week
has been about cultivating positive emotions.  We belong to the universe with such interdependency that your wellbeing is interwoven with the wellbeing of the whole community of life on Earth. You are invited to flourish! 


The purpose of these journeys via the Cosmic Quotes is to explore what it means to be a Cosmic Person, to live with sensitivity to and conscious awareness that we belong to the universe and that our lives are governed by interdependency, connectedness, and emergence. To be a Cosmic Person is to let this awareness support our wellbeing and direct our decisions and choices such that our lives become about participating in the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth. It's about living a bigger story, a better story, and a beautiful story, the one about falling in love with the Earth over and over again. 

Constellations of Awakening

posting by Jana

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I've just finished a season of presenting at conferences about the Cosmic Person as a way of re-conceiving the legal subject or person at law. I argue for law to take greater account of the human being in context as opposed to the highly abstracted ideal of the rational, autonomous individual that's been very influential in Western culture. The effect of the rational autonomous individual as the chief 'player' at law has been to privilege the 'individual life project' in legal decision-making. It's time, I argue, to value the project of life - interdependent, connected, and emergent - by remembering ourselves as part of the whole community of life on Earth not apart from or above it. 

At some point over the next few weeks I intend to sit down with my notes from all three conferences: The Green Institute's 'Everything is Connected', the Australian Earth Laws Alliance 'Inspiring Earth Ethics: Linking Values and Action', and Law, Literature and the Humanities Association of Australasia's 'Dissents and Dispositions'.  So many new connections, such a flurry of new ideas. And I look forward to the keynotes and so on being uploaded to those websites so I can review the highlights (you might want to check them out, too). 

The title of this post relates to a notion I picked up at the last conference, 'Dissents and Dispositions.' In a presentation on old and new materialism, Professor Chris Tomlins of UC Berkley Law included the phrase 'constellations of awakening.' It refers to critical theorist Walter Benjamin's proposal that 'ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars.' From the Oxford Reference:

Walter Benjamin famously proposed in the ‘Epistemo-Critical Prologue’ to Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (1928), translated as The Origin of German Tragic Drama (1977), that ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars. That is to say, ideas are no more present in the world than constellations actually exist in the heavens, but like constellations they enable us to perceive relations between objects. It also means ideas are not the same as concepts, nor can they be construed as the laws of concepts. Ideas do not give rise to knowledge about phenomena and phenomena cannot be used to measure their validity. This is not to say the constellation is purely subjective or all in our heads. The stars in the night sky are where they are regardless of how we look at them and there is something in how they are positioned above us that suggests the image we construct of them. But having said that, the names we use for constellations are embedded in history, tradition and myth. So the constellation is simultaneously subjective and objective in nature. It is not, however, a system, and this is its true significance for Benjamin, who rejects the notion that philosophy can be thought of as systemic, as though it were mathematical or scientific instead of discursive. Benjamin developed this notion further in his account of the arcades in 19th-century Paris. Theodor Adorno adopts and adapts constellation in his account of negative dialectics, transforming it into a model. The notion of constellation allows for a depiction of the relation between ideas that gives individual ideas their autonomy but does not thereby plunge them into a state of isolated anomie.

So the constellation is simultaneously subjective and objective in nature. That's of interest to me as a way to wonder about the ideas I carry around and how they relate to one another. The mixture of objective and subjective that cannot be collapsed or fully picked apart: there is an invitation in this for me to hold lightly my ideas and the system of meaning I think they create for me. What I hold as truth is always a mix of the observable and the perceived...with all the filters and biases perception entails. 

If you had to pick out a particular star of 'truth' from amongst your constellations of awakening today, what would it be? 

Inspiring Earth Ethics

posting by Jana

 One of the astonishing grass trees covering the Nathan campus of Griffith University in Brisbane.

One of the astonishing grass trees covering the Nathan campus of Griffith University in Brisbane.

I've just returned to Adelaide from a wonderfully provocative conference in Brisbane hosted by the Australian Earth Laws Alliance. Many of the presentations will be available on their website soon. 

One of my favourite 'take-aways' is a statement by conference speaker Sallie Gillespie, who is a Jungian psychologist and author of soon to be published Sea Change: How Engaging with Climate Change Changes Us.

 
Conversation is the alchemical task of changing consciousness.
— Sallie Gillespie
 

The Community of the Cosmic Person is a community of support for a changing consciousness: from human beings in Western industrialised culture destroying the planet to human beings everywhere learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner. 

The focus of the Community is on conversation...here in the comments section, on the Facebook page, in the Facebook group, and face to face. 

 Workshop in Ecozoic Living at the Inspiring Earth Ethics conference. 

Workshop in Ecozoic Living at the Inspiring Earth Ethics conference. 

At the conference I had two opportunities to generate some conversation about Ecozoic Living and being a Cosmic Person. Here are bits and pieces from the workshop and a panel presentation. 

Thomas Berry believed that the wisdom to make the necessary shift is a available to us and he drew attention to four reservoirs: indigenous cultures, women, science, and the classical tradition. 

It's fascinating to think of science as a wisdom tradition: not simply a knowledge base but also a source for learning how to live and for giving life meaning. 

 
With our empirical observations expanded by modern science, we are now realising that our universe is a single immense energy event that began as a tiny speck that has unfolded over time to become galaxies and stars, palms and pelicans, the music of Bach, and each of us alive today. The great discovery of contemporary science is that the universe is not simply a place, but a story - a story in which we are immersed, to which we belong, and out of which we arose.
— Brian Swimme & Mary Evelyn Tucker 'Journey of the Universe'
 

The rest of the workshop focused on three ethics that emerge out of the idea of Ecozoic Living: learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.

Learning: implies an ethic of openness
Presence: implies an ethic of participation
Mutual Benefit: implies and ethic of reciprocity

Unpacking these together with the group in conversation was fun, especially around a point raised about why the Ecozoic is phrased as 'learning to be present to the planet' instead of 'learning to be present with the planet.' One of the participants suggested that 'to be present to the planet' implied an active responsiveness, which fit well into the conversation about activating an Ecozoic ethic. 

In the panel presentation I talked about resetting the reference point in Western culture (specifically in the law, which is my area of research) away from the isolated self towards the self in context. The Cosmic Person is the person in context, aware of connection and drawn to participating in the co-flourishing of people, place, and planet. 

One of the real highlights of the conference was a forest bathing experience led by my colleague in the practice Alex Gaut of Nature & Wellbeing Australia. It was so lovely to be invited to put the Ecozoic ethic into practice in this experience of learning to be present to the planet. 

 A forest bathing participant a the Inspiring Earth Ethics Conference activating Ecozoic Living by learning to be present to the planet.  

A forest bathing participant a the Inspiring Earth Ethics Conference activating Ecozoic Living by learning to be present to the planet.  

Conversation being the alchemical task of changing consciousness...please know you're invited to join the conversation by commenting here or participating in the Facebook communities mentioned above. Activating the Ecozoic is a shared enterprise as much as a personal commitment, defined by participating in the co-flourishing of people, place, and planet together. In other words, your presence in the conversation is desired/required! 

Practical EcoSpirituality: Not an Oxymoron?

posting by Jana

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Yesterday I re-entered the familiar space of progressive spirituality, a space I inhabited in my professional life for 25 years until launching into a PhD and convening this community.

I was invited as one of three speakers for a morning of input and conversation on 'authentic spirituality for the 21st century.' Mark Kickett, the Development Officer of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, and Anne Hewitt, a chaplain on an interfaith team at Flinders Medical Centre, presented immersive talks about aboriginal and Celtic spirituality, respectively. 

We all found ourselves meeting at the point of interconnection as the heart of spirituality. Everything is connected, a reality that grounds us and moves us to compassionate action. 

I was, of course, talking about Ecozoic Living for my part. I titled my talk, Ecozoic Living: A Practical EcoSpirituality. By 'practical' I was signalling the possibility that ecospirituality is as much about going out from nature as going into it. Here's a bit of the introduction to my talk:

What I’m reaching for in the idea of a practical eco-spirituality is a framework for living that simultaneously feeds our spirits with reflective practices and guides our actions on behalf of others and the world we share. I’m looking for a pathway to co-flourishing: my own flourishing, the flourishing of the places and communities in which I find myself, and the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth.

I’ve always been on a pathway into nature as a source of spiritual nourishment, but it wasn’t until I encountered an idea from Thomas Berry that I learned to articulate an ethical pathway leading out from nature. A complete spiral path of practical eco-spirituality – going in/going out – emerges for me in Berry’s idea of the Ecozoic Era.

The Ecozoic Era is a vision of a time when human beings will learn to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.

Obviously, there are human beings and entire cultures who embody the Ecozoic and have for millennia. But dominant Western culture has evolved according to a radical discontinuity: in the classical period with the elevation of the mind over the body; within the prevailing Christian tradition that demonised bodies – especially the bodies of women and the Earth – in the doctrine of original sin; and in the context of political, social, and scientific revolutions that forged a social imaginary of mastery and control instead of mutuality and coexistence.

As we thought, so we acted: disconnection led to objectification and objectification led to exploitation and exploitation has led to devastation.

I believe the vision of the Ecozoic can lead to transformation in the human-Earth relationship within Western culture if activated as a framework for living; as a practical eco-spirituality.

I hadn't explicitly named the practices of Ecozoic Living - learning, learning to be present, learning to be present to the planet, and learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner - as spiritual practices before this talk. But the notion sits well with me, for a few reasons: 

1.     These practices engage the big questions: Who am I? Who are we? Why are we here?

2.     They address the big relationships: self, cosmos, others.

3.     They pursue the big tasks: finding meaning, transcending, connecting, becoming.

Here is more from the talk, and here is a link to the full PDF.

I wonder: which of the practices do you connect with most easily and which do you find most challenging? 

learning
The spiritual practice of learning is about allowing ourselves to be changed by this fact: that the universe has evolved in us the capacity for self-reflective consciousness. We can choose to participate in the flourishing of the whole community of life on Earth. This is a better story than the one that imagines us as separate from or in opposition to nature. We can find all the energy we need to live this better story not only in the awe and wonder of the new universe story but also in our own nature love stories.

learning to be present
This practice is about opening up to the world as it is, with courage, clarity, and calm.

The practicality of the spiritual practice of learning to be present shines through in this teaching from Tibetan Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa that Margaret Wheatley includes in her discussion of emergence in So Far From Home: Lost and Found in our Brave New World

We cannot change the world as it is,
But by opening ourselves to the world as it is,
We may find that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available –
Not just to us but to all human beings.

In other words, as Margaret Wheatley comments on this teaching, ‘If we fully accept the world as it is – in all its harsh realities – then we can develop the very qualities we need to be in that world and not succumb to that harshness.’

learning to be present to the planet
This is the point of the spiral pathway connected directly to the Earth. This is where we sit in nature and watch the interaction of bees and flowers. This is where we lean against the tree and pay attention to the inherent reciprocity of our relationship with that tree: as we breathe out, the tree breathes in, and we breathe in as the trees breathes out.

The practicality of this spiritual practices lies in setting our rhythms to those of the universe and the earth: rhythms of interdependency, connectedness, and emergence.

learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner
This is the point of the spiral pathway reaching out into the world in the ethic of mutual benefit.

Activating the Ecozoic as a practical spiritual framework is testing our participation in the human-Earth relationship – in every thought, word, and deed – with the litmus of mutual benefit.

I wonder: What are you noticing about your responses to my descriptions of these practices? I welcome your comments and conversation! 

Moving On and Reaching Out

posting by Jana

 

 the cat on moving day. unimpressed. 

the cat on moving day. unimpressed. 

Over the last 10 days, we've moved the Community of the Cosmic Person HQ. It's a move towards deeper co-flourishing (even if the cat isn't convinced). The new HQ has an actual garden on the ground as opposed to a rooftop makeshift found-object (aka milk crates) cobbled together attempt at growing a few things. It's got a good roof for solar panels, and a square kitchen that invites group cooking and eating and connecting. The neighbourhood is mixed use and mixed population, rippling with gentle new waves of migration flowing into an Old World multi-generational pool of established market gardens, cafes, and footpath conversations.

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And in the reaching out department, I've set up a Patreon page. Patreon is a place where people can pledge to financially support my work as the Convener of the Community of the Cosmic Person. I like this new level of accountability and of taking myself seriously in this work. My anti-marketing marketing coach, Carmel, has been incredibly helpful in directing me to clarify what I really want - the planet to flourish - and what I think it takes to work on this passion: helping other people to flourish, which to me means to live lightly, meaningfully, and interdependently as part of the whole community of life on Earth. 

I don't know what to make of the timeline from first having the idea for the Community of the Cosmic Person in the backseat of the car whilst driving across the Hay Plain between New South Wales and Adelaide. When was that? 18 months ago or something. Is it a long or a short time to have established a community and created spaces in which we can meet and content which we can engage? I don't know and it doesn't really matter. I'm blown away by the simple fact that it is, and I have, and we are. 

Thanks to you, we are. Thank you for being here and for sharing the CoFlourishing journey. 

yours in cosmic connection - Jana

 the Cosmic Cat, just because

the Cosmic Cat, just because