Researchers find trouble among phytoplankton, the base of the food chain, which has implications for the marine food web and the world’s carbon cycle
Lauren Morello, ClimateWireJuly 29, 2010
by 2030 by Alexander Horo
ARTICLE by Dixie Belcher, founder of Turning the Tides and Ocean Beat, for THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR TRANSFORMATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS based in Bangalore, India
I live in Alaska, surrounded by glaciers and the largest rainforest in the northern hemisphere – both of which are rapidly disappearing. We are watching huge ice fields hundreds of miles square, melt before our eyes, while beetles take advantage of a warming planet to kill our trees.. We are afraid the next catastrophe will be fire.
In the Arctic, the tundra – thousands of square miles of water soaked soil and plants, is melting. Houses are sinking – in some places the tundra is 8 feet deep in melted ice and can’t support the weight of humans or animals. Walking across the tundra can now carry the risk of drowning.
And the ocean is rising – 12 villages have to move – now. It costs $100,000,000 to move a village and Alaska, having lost 4/5 of its budget to plunging oil prices, can’t afford to move even one. Over 200 villages are in danger.
The world is losing 150 billion tons of ice a year. At this rate, scientists predict all glaciers will be gone in 30 years – and the world to be unlivable.
Oceans, which provide half the world’s oxygen, are absorbing millions of tons of carbon dioxide – which, when mixed with sea water becomes carbonic acid – killing reefs, fish, life. Alaska ocean scientists call their work “documenting the decline”.
Earth’s biggest carbon sinks – forests, oceans, plants – are dying.
And everywhere the poor are getting poorer, sicker and more desperate.
We treat the earth as we treat people. We have throw away garbage, throw away people, throw away countries – stemming from a worldview that focuses on separation – a lack of felt connection – with anything we deem“outside” of ourselves. We haven’t yet recognized that individual health depends on the health of everything else.
The world’s indigenous people live in a world of interconnectedness – of relationship – and hold information vital to our survival. It is in our utmost interest to listen to them.
In 1986, the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network, founded by Dr. Apela Colorado, a member of the Native American Oneida tribe, held its first conference in Alberta, Canada. Attending were about 15 “wise people” from around the world, and about 15 cutting edge scientists. The goal was to find common ground between Western and Indigenous world views. Having spent considerable time with tribal people, I was quite pessimistic about finding commonality.
We discovered that indigenous peoples often live in the world of quantum physics.
I sat next to Dr. David Peat, a Canadian quantum physicist and author who attempts to explain the new and difficult-to-understand concepts of his discipline to non-physicists. David explained that most quantum physicists leave their work at the laboratory because it seems to make no sense in day-to-day life, but a a few write books – mostly for themselves – to try to understand what these concepts might mean in everyday life – if anything.
David gave the example of time and space – that in the lab the correct term was “time-space continuum” because time and space are the same thing. Although this makes sense in the lab, he couldn’t wrap his head around it outside. He held up his coffee cup and said that, in the lab, he could prove the cup was alive, but looking at it in his hand, it didn’t seem alive at all.
LeRoy Little Bear, member of a Canadian Blackfoot tribe, stated that in Blackfoot, the word for “time” and the word for “space” is the same word. And that Blackfoot people knew cups were alive because they had learned to “see”. These turned out to be true with other native peoples.
David Peat’s next book was entitled “Blackfoot Physics”. He discovered that many concepts of quantum physics are contained in tribal languages – and found that several of the new physics’ original thinkers had visited American tribes and found that their “new” mind bending ideas were often contained within the world views of tribal people.
For instance – Western educated people say “I see the table”. The speaker doesn’t need to explain that “I” and “table” are separate entities – quite different from each other. The listener already knows this. However speakers of some native languages will say “table seeing” – more accurate from a quantum perspective – and do not have to explain that the table and the person seeing, are inter-related – made from the same energy packets that move from table to speaker and back. The listener already knows that. While western languages often hold a worldview of separation, indigenous ones contain concepts of inter-relatedness.
We have discovered that human brains operate between 10 and 40 bits per second. But cells in our bodies and the natural world, operate at least a million bits a second – perhaps more. A level of intelligence we can’t possibly approach, much less control, with our – in comparison – very slow brains.
The way to access this intelligence is to stop thinking – as thinking has been found to block intelligence.
There are many ways to do this. One is to close your eyes, hold a hand an inch or so from your ear, and focus on the feeling in that hand. Then put the other hand an inch from the other ear, and try to focus on both at the same time. To accomplish this, one has to stop thinking.
Many Native Americans had seven directions to be aware of – over, under, front, back, left, right, and one’s heart. If one is to go through life trying to be aware of all seven, one can’t spend too much time thinking. Languages that incorporate the concepts of quantum physics spring from such all- encompassing awareness.
We all live in this sea of intelligence that is outside and inside, but only a few of us are aware of its existence, much less how to access it.
I believe our thoughts block not only awareness and intelligence, but ecstasy. When I was 25, I was adopted into a Tlingit family – Tlingits have lived on the shores of Southeast Alaska for probably thousands of years. After my adoption, two elders took me to an island to pick spruce roots – they were determined to teach me to weave. (They got over this). Being a white person, I expected to step out of the boat, walk to the spruce trees, collect the roots, and return. Instead, when we got to the forest, both elders slowed almost to a stop, their faces ecstatic. I’d never witnessed anything like what was happening to their faces – their whole bodies alert and at attention. I had no understanding of where they seemed to be – but I never forgot it. Later I learned that salmon, leaping up waterfalls and rapids to spawn are physiologically in a state of ecstasy. I once read an account of a Caucasion learning shamanism in Central America, who was told to enter the consciousness of a worm. To his great surprise, he found himself in a state of ecstasy and felt power as the worm plowed its way through clods of earth.
Now, when I walk through the forest, especially in the spring, if I can make myself stop thinking for even a few seconds, the feeling of ecstasy is palpable.
I have heard native peoples say that western educated peoples are ecstasy starved.
A friend – a Jesuit priest, ethnically Chinese, born and raised in Bangkok – in 2002 was leading a group of tribal young people – animists – from the hill tribes of Northern Thailand on a two week trek through a bamboo forest. It was the dry season – when it never rains. One day they heard the cry of a monkey – my friend said it was a very ordinary call of a monkey – a sound he’d grown up with. The tribal people however, said it was going to rain – hard.
There was not a cloud in the sky.
Some of the young people ran two hours back to the last village to find a tarp. Others stayed and prayed – to the sky, the clouds, the trees – no one knows. When the runners returned with the tarp, clouds had moved in. After it was up, the rain poured down.
Everywhere except on the tarp.
This was a life changing experience for my Jesuit friend. He felt this communication between humans and the natural world to be our birthright – that we have lost. He talks about bringing tribal people together with western educated people, to see if it is possible for us to re-learn.
Information has built the modern technological world – while the natural world quietly dies around us. We have forgotten the importance – even the very existence – of wisdom – that is contained in every human heart – and easily accessed.
I have read that one of the many things that frightened Native Americans regarding the encroaching Europeans, is that they seemed to lack hearts, connection. To the native peoples, who lived sustainably and reverently with the Earth Mother, the Europeans were cold blooded and terrifying.
I don’t think the western world view has changed very much since then.
With the advent of heart transplants, scientists discovered that 85% of the neurological connections between heart and brain travel FROM the heart TO the brain. The wisdom of the heart is meant to direct the learned information contained in the brain.
The Heart Math Institute in California has developed easy to learn techniques to access this wisdom. Using these techniques, executives cure themselves of heart disease, college math scores rise by as much as 70%, bullying drops dramatically and academic scores rise at all levels. Heart Math is currently being taught in schools, universities, corporations and prisons and to counselors, psychologists and many other professions, in countries around the world.
Students discover that the heart sends its intelligence – via energetic signals – to the brain, which converts these to language. They learn, through experience, that just because something doesn’t have a mouth, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a voice.
In 2006, after teaching 30 Alaskans to successfully access their own wisdom, I asked them to pick a tree, connect to it with their hearts, and ask a question – about an issue they had been unsuccessfully struggling with.
Results were life changing. Some waited three years before calling to report what happened – that the response astounded them – and that they have continued to communicate with the natural world.
Heart Math has proven, at least to me and a few other Alaskans, that it is one way to establish communication not only with one’s own intelligence, but also with the intelligence of the natural world. It is a way to listen.
Listening to ourselves, the natural world and each other can literally change the world.
In 1992 I was in Palestine, working on a peace project. A young man in a village invited me to his home to share my project with his friends. When I arrived I found thirty very angry men who wanted to know who I was and why I was in their village. I described my project. The first person very angrily said he would have nothing to do with it and why. There was nothing to say – so I didn’t. The next person stated more reasons not to be a part. For two hours and fifteen minutes I listened to their frustrations and why my project wouldn’t work. I said nothing – but I was there – deeply feeling their angst. I know they felt my empathy. Then there was silence – broken by a man who said they’d never tried this before. Someone else said they had a computer – did I need it? Another offered an office. In two hours and fifteen minutes they moved 180 degrees without my saying a word.
I was astonished.
Several years later I was at a meeting of angry Native Hawaiians – the United States Air Force wanted to use one of their remote islands. The Hawaiians were horrified. About fifty had gathered to listen to an idea I had that involved music. I stated my idea. The first response came from a 55 year old well known activist: “No white woman is going to tell ME what to do!” – setting off two hours and fifteen minutes of similar responses. I said nothing. There was really nothing to say. At the end, the first speaker stood up and said “Dixie Belcher! We NEED you!” I had not uttered a word – and everything had shifted 180 degrees.
Days after 9/ll, someone asked Thich Nat Han, the well known Vietnamese Buddhist priest, what he would do if he was in George Bush’s shoes. He said he would bring in Bin Laden, find the best listeners he knew, and they would sit there and listen – for as long as it took.
I thought that, had the American public known the value of listening – especially to one’s enemies – we might have skipped the Gulf War, the bloodshed, the billions of dollars, and millions of refugees fleeing a failed state.
In native world views, learning to listen – really listen – to each other, to the natural world, to our own intelligence – is vital. Probably the best way to honor someone is to take the time to listen. Maybe the best way to honor the natural world is to learn to listen to its intelligence. Maybe the best way to honor ourselves is to learn to listen to our own wisdom.
Listening can change the world.
Finally, my experience as a musician has demonstrated the power of music to effect political and social change, rapidly and dramatically. Music is a language of the heart that can transcend religious, political and cultural differences. Where language often stimulates angry reactions, with people getting madder and madder, music can bring people together – and has through the ages. Most native traditions include lots of music – I have lived with tribal people who sing almost all day long. Their children learn to sing as they learn to talk. There is something about being on the same wavelengths – that emanate from the heart – that is so much more effective than the most learned of debates. Music is a vital part of moving from a place of separation to one of wholeness. We must not forget this.
The continuation of life depends on developing a felt connection with ourselves, with the natural world, with other humans. We must learn empathy, respect, reverence. We have to somehow step off the spinning wheels of our lives and give ourselves space to become wise. We must write textbooks and promote practices that both children and non-scientist adults can understand]and incorporate into their lives. We must listen to the wisdom of peoples who have lived successfully and sustainably with the earth for millennia – we must learn to use wisdom to direct the wealth of information discovered by the world’s scientists. We must take time to sing together.
We must learn to listen.
It is possible to move from an Age of Information to an Age of Wisdom.
Time is of the essence.
Dixie Belcher is an Alaska peace and environmental activist who directed a large folk/rock group that traveled Alaska and Canada during the 70’s, and used music to begin a movement to open the Russian/Alaska border in 1986. She has traveled widely and been adopted into four indigenous tribes. She was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017. She is a mother and grandmother.
Sources: New York Times, 8 February, 2012 – report from NASA; The User Illusion by Tor Norretranders; The Heart Math Institute