Spring in North Chicago -:- Artwork by Robert Althouse
SPRING LANDSCAPES ART SERIES
Robert Althouse: I have worked on paintings in this series for four or five years. They reflect my love of Australian aboriginal art and many of the values I share with indigenous cultural traditions. I believe dreamtime was originally used to reference the religion of Australian aboriginal culture. I do not use it in this way, because I have no direct experience of that religion. For me the term simply implies a liminal experience that is not fully conscious nor unconscious. It something in the middle. I experience this as a place of active imagination and many possibilities not necessarily accessible to me through conventional reality. Continue Reading >>
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The world's worst humanitarian disaster continues to slide into ever greater misery. Destruction of schools, hospitals, and civilian dwellings intensifies the catastrophe. The invading forces, belonging to one of the most autocratic countries in the world, seem intent on pursuing war to the bitter end. More than four million prople have been driven from their homes. Approaching 400,000 have been killed by military action, disease and starvation, a large proportion of them children. However, in this case - we are here talking about the war in Yemen - there is no mention of sanctions and very little press coverage presumably because the West who control the media is the supplier of virtually all of the arms to the invading forces. In fact, Saudi Arabia is the best customer for the arms industries in both UK and USA. The countries that are most vociferous in their condemnation of one war are simultaneously profiting mightily from the massacre of children in another one which must not, of course, be mentioned.
It is increasingly difficult to get clear perspective from 'news' reports these days. They seem more and more to be stories telling one what one should think rather than reports of data that leave one to make up one's own mind. Instead of news, we have 'information warfare' - what our side says is to be believed and what the other side says is propaganda, whether 'our side' is the West or China or wherever. This is a sad state of affairs.
We are at a juncture in human history when, in the face of an unprecedented risk of ecological collapse, we urgently need international cooperation on a global scale. Instead, what seems to be happening is a fall back into Cold War stances and attitudes as the US-NATO Alliance struggles to retain its hegemony against the rise of China, the resistance of Russia and the efforts of neutral countries (the 'BRICS' & others) to extricate themselves from the dollar based international financial system which has led to so much so-called 'sanctioning' - the use of financial control as a weapon. We cannot afford a new Cold War at a time like this when the biosphere upon which our species depends is in peril. Nor can we afford an international financial system that permits a country like Sri Lanka to go bankrupt, as happened this week, again with hardly any press coverage. There is only one story in town and the plight of people in poorer countries is no longer of interest.
The collapse of Sri Lanka's economy is very largely attributable to the effects of the pandemic which killed the tourist trade which was one of the country's most important sources of income. Yet while India is trying to assist, the USA is assessing whether to put sanctions on India for not voting with the USA at the UN on the Ukraine issue and China has refused to renew loans as it is struggling with its own COVID related problems. The pandemic is not a local South Asian problem, it is an international challenge. In the face of threats to the whole human race, nationalism and competing hegemonies are hopelessly outdated and inefficient principles. We need cooperation, not power struggles.
The world seriously needs a new settlement. The arrangements that were made at the end of WWII and are substantially still in place were not designed to help us combat pandemics, extinctions, rising sea levels and increasing numbers of climate related disasters. Something new is needed, but we are unlikely to arrive at it while we continue to have our attention fixed on east-west rivalries. Like the children in the Lotus Sutra, we fight each other while our house is burning down.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
Many of us are currently engaged in the online Buddhist Psychology Diploma Programme. Buddhist Psychology is a wonderful vahicle through which to develop the bodhisattva spirit in a practical way that can actually be applied to helping people to deepen their lives. Students on the programme learn the principles of Buddhist Psychology as set out in the earliest texts and as developed in subsequent commentarial literature which is not limited to one school of Buddhism. This is a treasure house of spiritual and psychological insight.
Learning the theory is useful. It is important to have skilful ways of thinking and understanding. However, it is also vital to put such knowledge into practice and this means learning how to discern the processes of the psyche in depth, not merely apply judgements or rationality, but understand and intuitively sense the flows and dynamics of deeper human process and passion. This means learning to truly listen: to listen without one's own ego getting in the way.
Every client, every seeker, every person travelling along the spiritual path of life, encounters obstacles. This is the first truth - there is the travail of birth, growth, aging, disease, and death; there are losses, failures, responsibilities, conflicts and unanticipated changes of circumstance. This is life. Thus, there is a need to deeply understand and accept the human condition in all its seasons and circumstances and to acquire the skill to appreciate the individual case in all its uniqueness. Each life is a koan: an instance of the human condition playing out in a unique manner.
So we learn to listen. We listen as to something never heard before, yet we do so with a faith and confidence born of experience. We flow with the other in the depths of his or her soul while simultaneously having a grounding in a sense of the greater life that encompasses us all. We discern the rising and falling according to one's deeds and we resonate with the universal plight and glory of what it is to be a person. True listening is a precious art.
Talk on Psychotherapy Audiohttps://bit.ly/3JhWhYa