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  • Visiting ancient sites of the Aboriginal people here in Australia, I am struck by both their deep connection with nature and their fascination with the mysteries of the universe. The cave drawings and glyphs carved into stone cliffs that I have seen tell stories similar to those still told today by my indigenous friends, the Shuar and Achuar of the Amazon, the Kogi of Colombia, and the Maya of Central America. Throughout the world, we see that ancient peoples had a deep fascination with Orion, Pleiades, and ideas around mysterious visitations from other planets. We also see that they enjoyed rich traditions centered on the spiritual and healing powers of animals and plants. All of this is a confirmation of our inherent feelings of oneness with the natural world and the universe. The Hubble telescope has shown us that there are over 100 billion galaxies and an extremely high probability of intelligent life out there among the stars we see at night. In other words, modern science has confirmed what indigenous people have known for millennia. Perhaps we should conclude from all this that we do not need to take care of our home, this beautiful place we call Earth. We can lay waste to it and then move to one of those other habitable planets. Some people take solace in the idea that Elon Musk and his SpaceX might transport us to another world that we can make more sustainable than our own planet. But, of course the response to that is: If we destroy our world why won't we destroy any other we inhabit? As I stood staring at the ancient drawings and glyphs, I could almost hear these people from the past warning us to change our ways. I had the feeling that when they spent all those hours chiseling into the rock, they were aware that their progeny -- thousands of years in the future -- would need to respect the natural world and the mysteries of the universe as much as they did. Today, nature herself is speaking to us in a powerful voice. Cities, like Miami, and islands around the globe are being flooded. Glaciers are melting. One-hundred-year storms are striking every year. Animal and plant species are going extinct at astronomical rates. We humans are steering our fragile space station toward disaster. The messages we hear from ancient voices, contemporary indigenous cultures, and modern science, along with the signs from nature herself, are screams for change. There can be no question that this is the time to convert failed economic and political systems into ones that will work, to transform a Death Economy into one that is a renewable resource, a Life Economy. John will take participants deeper into the sacred world of plants in a special facility devoted to plant healing at the Omega Institute, August 22-24, 2018. Very limited space for a few special people.¬†Sign up...
  • Recent marches, demonstrations, news reports, editorials, and blogs detailing the urgency of new gun laws have brought to light the extreme and insidious powers of the National Rifle Association (NRA). We have learned that it isn't just about mass shootings in schools, churches, theaters, and other public areas. It isn't just about Stephon Clark and the other victims of police guns.† The problem goes deep. Gun violence is rampant across the nation. On an average day, 96 people are killed by guns in the US (seven of these are children or teens). For every one person killed by a gun, two more are wounded. (1) Nearly two thirds of all firearm deaths are suicides. Although less than 10% of general suicide attempts result in death, 85% of gun suicide attempts are fatal. (2) People kill themselves with guns in moments of deep depression or anger and without thinking. When they don't have a gun and do have time to "cool off," they are much more likely to realize that they want to live. The problem goes still deeper. Nearly everyone in the US wants to stiffen gun control laws -- 95% of us favor background checks for all gun sales, and 68% support banning military-style assault weapons. (3)†Yet nothing happens. Why? We all know the answer. The NRA is extremely powerful. It cares nothing for democracy. †It has a national budget of some quarter billion dollars and a record of outspending its opponents (fifteen times as much on campaign contributions as gun-control advocates between 2000 and 2010) (4). However, that's just a fraction of its insidious power.† The NRA is a metaphor, a symbol, for the biggest problem facing the US, one that is quickly transforming us from a respected world democracy (or at least republic) to something that resembles a banana oligarchy ruled by narcissistic autocrats who don't give a damn what the people think or want. It is representative of the extreme power exercised by a relatively few in the name of profits and greed. Although it portrays itself as a defender of the Second Amendment, the NRA is a marketing and lobbying tool for gun manufacturers. The NRA is just one of many. It has become apparent to all of us that the US government, including our elected officials, has become the servant of Big Business and the few very wealthy people who own and run the global corporations. On March 13, 2018 Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, spoke with NPR's Sarah McCammon about the gun industry and its ties to the NRA.
    SUGARMANN: The industry's history is one of peaks and valleys. And now they're running into a very deep valley. The industry is constantly trying to find the next big thing to sell to this traditional cohort of gun owners who are aging white males who are dying off. And to borrow a phrase from the tobacco industry, they're not finding the replacement shooters to take their place. At the same time, they work to exploit any opportunity to sell guns, whether it's passage of a gun control law, whether it's the election of Barack Obama - his re-election, whether it's 9/11.
    One of the most drastic miscalculations the industry made was they assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency. So when she didn't, the sales demand dropped precipitously. And that's why you're seeing the situation today with these leading gun manufacturers. MCCAMMON: So what does that mean for the total market? SUGARMANN: It means that the industry has to go find new markets. And once again, following a trail blazed by the tobacco industry, they're continuing to focus on women and also now very aggressively targeting children. (5) President Eisenhower, in his last major speech as president, warned about the dangerous powers of a growing military-industrial-complex. †He told us that we were faced with the very real possibility of becoming an oligarchy where a few wealthy individuals control government. The NRA is just one example of how that has happened.† Let us continue to march, demonstrate and blog for new and much stricter gun control laws. And let us also recognize that in doing so we are opening the door for a bigger movement -- one to take business out of government. Let the NRA, Stephon Clark, all the other tragic gun-related deaths, as well as the courageous young people demonstrating in the streets, motivate us to truly become a country by, for and of the people. Join John in the Bahamas, New York, Colombia, Costa Rica, or...
  • I've written in previous newsletters that you and I are incredibly blessed because we are part of the greatest revolution in history: The Consciousness Revolution. This revolution has come none too soon. Because humans are navigating our fragile space station, Earth, towards disaster, it is imperative that we reboot our navigational systems -- our consciousness and perceptions about what it means to be human on this planet. Many years ago, as I've written in several of my books, my life was saved and forever changed by plants served by a Shuar shaman deep in the Amazon rain forest. I'd never heard of ayahuasca at that time. All I knew was that it had a profound impact on my consciousness. For me, the most important thing I learned that first night and many afterwards, as I trained to be an ayahuasca shaman, is that plants have a consciousness and they are insisting on sharing it with us humans. Plants teach us to alter objective reality by changing our perceptions of reality, making the impossible become possible -- to shapeshift. Just as a tiny seed breaks through cement, we can break through the 'cement' that has imprisoned us in destructive patterns -- individually and globally. In recent years, ayahuasca has become popular in many parts of the world. While I have deep appreciation for the plants that are used to concoct the tea that is ayahuasca, I also am concerned that many who partake are missing the real point: Plants -- all plants -- are our teachers. They do not have to be ingested or transport us to hallucinogenic states in order to teach. Some plants teach us about art (roses, tulips). ¬†Some teach about nutrition (avocados, almonds). Some about healing injuries and diseases (aloe, turmeric). Some teach us respect for nature (poison ivy, thorns). Some about consciousness (ayahuasca, San Pedro). Every plant is a teacher if we are just willing to listen. Plants, like the seed that breaks through cement, empower us to do what the Shuar and other indigenous shamans refer to as "touching the jaguar." We confront our obstacles, our blockages, and use the energy of those obstacles to make the "impossible" become possible. When I was in school, everyone I knew -- except my parents and grandmother who were plant lovers -- ¬†scoffed at the idea that plants had consciousness. The plants themselves have since shown us otherwise. A few of many examples: Plants illustrate that energy, nutrition and everything needed for life can be created directly from water, air, and sunshine in the sustainable processes known as photosynthesis. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) discovered that plants in the wild medicate against pain by emitting methyl salicylate -- a form of aspirin. (1) Research published in the journal Oecologia conclude that plants warn each other against predators and potential enemies. A plant network receives external signals of impending danger and transmits it to other members of the network. (1) Studies indicate that some plants emit chemicals that deter herbivores from eating them. (1) Experiments have shown that plants learn to use musical scales and are able to make music with the use of a synthesizer. (2) It seems that, during this moment in history when our space station is starting to spin out of control, the plants have stepped forward to help us save ourselves -- and them. Our scientists are legitimizing plant intelligence and confirming that they not only have consciousness but can also help us touch the jaguars that have kept us caged in unsustainable life-styles. Plants are becoming our allies in making the transition into global systems that are themselves renewable resources. This coming August, I'll facilitate "Sacred Plants: Touching the Jaguar," a course at the Omega Institute in New York. This experiential workshop will be held inside the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), a place where plants turn the used and dirty water of the entire campus into potable water. It is an example of transforming "it can't be done" to "it is done" -- through the teachings of plants. In January 2019, I will guide people to plant shamans on a trip, "Raising Consciousness -- Magical Plants in the Costa Rican Jungle." Although I've been taking people to Latin American shamans since the late 1980s, this is the first time to this amazing place of enchanted plants, in one of Costa Rica's most impressive primary forests. Participants will have the opportunity to experience ayahuasca and delve deep in plant consciousness. Also, in January I'll be teaching at Rythmia in Costa Rica, a healing center/spa where ancient traditions are combined with modern healing techniques. Ayahuasca is not only used as a sacred teacher plant but is also studied; statistics are kept about its impacts on participants so that records can be used in scientific studies. I look forward to meeting some of you at one of these venues. We will employ shamanic journeys and other consciousness-raising approaches to help us communicate with and learn from the plants. For those of you who can't do any of these or join one of my other trips, please take the time to get to know your teacher plants -- inside your home, in nearby gardens, fields, or forests. Appreciate them. Learn from them. Let them help you touch your jaguars, rise to higher consciousness, and transform yourself and the...
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