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Overview of the Climate Crisis

Preamble. So that we will all be on the same page, I want to present an overview of the climate crisis. I know this material is hard to face but I will not apologize for being an alarmist – the alarms have been going off everywhere for years. If we are going to survive, we have to face the grim and looming reality of rapidly accelerating global warming.

So here goes: As you know, the Earth is getting hotter every month. Heat-trapping CO2 is higher than it's been in 3 million years and the last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. This June was the hottest month on record and July just broke that record. In fact, fifty heat records were broken this week on the east coast! Glaciers are melting, oceans are rising, warming, acidifying and losing oxygen, and the Earth's normal homeostasis is beginning to fail. Even with immediate action, runaway heat could continue for decades.

What are the consequences of global warming? As we have already seen, global warming radically changes weather all over the Earth, creating dangerous heat spells; ferocious hurricanes, tornados and forest fires; monsoon rains; expanding deserts; dying oceans; an escalating tide of climate refugees; and massive species extinction (150 species of plant or animal go extinct every day – it's called the 6th Extinction). Many scientists believe we have already passed the tipping point and that increasing temperatures will continue no matter what we do. Others have said that we may still have 18 months to forestall the worst outcomes.

Adding to this nightmare, we have the mounting pressure of population growth. When America was founded, there were less than one billion people on Earth. When I was a kid in the fifties, the world had 2.6 billion people. Now it's 7.7 billion. By 2050, we will exceed 9 billion people on Earth. Because we lack the sustainable resources to feed this growing population, we borrow dangerously from the future - emptying aquifers, cutting down forests, over-fishing the oceans, and poisoning nature with pesticides. Earth's growing overpopulation will result in polluted water and air; superbugs and new parasites (mosquitos will expand with warming climates and longer summers, bringing Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, Flesh-eating Bacteria, Brain-eating Amoeba, Tick-borne diseases, Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus); microplastics in our oceans, soil, air, snow, and bodies; overwhelmed hospitals; rising crime; more deforestation and wildlife deaths; widespread food shortages; regional conflicts over food and clean water; desperate migrations, and war. All this greatly multiplies the burden of global warming on the Earth's diminishing resources.  

And one more thing - the corruption, ignorance, passivity and denial of many elected officials still represents a horrifying obstacle to climate action. For example, the Amazon rain forest, which plays a critical role in climate regulation, is being deforested at a rate of over three football fields a minute because its president has given the green light to illegal land invasion, farming, logging and burning. The recent UN Climate Conference revealed that governments are nowhere near meeting the critical goals of the 2016 UN Paris Climate Agreement. Our own president has called climate change a "hoax," plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and deregulates environmental protections everywhere.


And, of course, we, too, are the problem because of wealth inequality, consumer habits, and CO2 footprints: when we fly, drive gas-powered vehicles, eat meat and dairy, and live high-carbon lifestyles, we are the wealthy 10% that generates 50% of the greenhouse gases.

It should be obvious by now that we are in terrible trouble. Climate activists say we are potentially facing a collapse of biological and social systems threatening civilization as we know it. This existential crisis will affect every living thing and every aspect of our lives. We don't know where this nightmare is going and can't simply stop or reverse it. Science is working on it. Governmental and grassroots organizations are beginning to mobilize. The news cycle is finally admitting the crisis is real. And we are each trying to change our own behavior and take political action. But this disaster is already happening and it's coming right at us. What we do – or don't do - now will affect countless generations to come. 

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 Mystical Principles in Caring for Creation

Experience Your Feelings
Our pain and anxiety for Creation arise because we are Creation.
We feel her feelings.
Avoid Compulsive Doing
Climate guilt, fear or despair can drive us into frantic doing.
In desperate busyness, we often ride roughshod over Creation's healing.
Center Attention in the Deep Silent Self of Creation
Silence is immersion in the divine Presence.
  Focusing on inner silence separates the real from the unreal.
Cultivate mind-silencing spiritual practices to wake up and see.
Dwell deeply and steadily in Creation's unitive consciousness.
Pervading all of Creation is the Creator.
Let Action Flow from the Presence in the Moment
Pure consciousness is the Creator's Presence.
Find your work in that Presence not simply from beliefs.
Sacred Action flows from immersion in the Presence: simple, natural and effective.
Ask Creation, "Where am I needed most right now?" and listen deeply.
Act with the discerning heart of loving compassion.
Acting from pure consciousness we affect the whole of Consciousness.
Inhabit the peace of the Divinity.
Creation Will Show You the Way
Stay in dialogue with Creation to see what she needs (not what you think she needs).
It's not action vs. contemplation, it's contemplation-in-action.
Awakened consciousness enlivens the divine Self.
Embody the Self in your activism.
Face Death
Prepare for death so you will have the courage to act fearlessly
Like everything in Creation, we will die but new life follows every death.
Death is a doorway not an ending.
Pay Attention to Synchronicity
As I write this, my puppy pulls out the book, I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj.

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20 Ways to Cope with Climate Anxiety and Despair

It's normal and appropriate to feel grief, anxiety, anger, and helplessness in the face of escalating climate disruption because it's a reality threat to all we hold dear and our whole way of life. But don't get paralyzed by negative thinking and emotion. Here are things you can do to manage stress:
1.     Exercise - Always helps with stress
2.     Meditate - Quiet frightened or obsessive thoughts
3.     Find meaningful spiritual practices – yoga, tai chi, contemplation, prayer, gratitude
4.     Talk with friends
5.     Find or start a support group
6.     Take constructive action – e.g., reduce your carbon footprint, buy a Carbon Offsets, create a more sustainable lifestyle, join activist organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund, DrawDown, or Elders Action Network, become politically active.
7.     Write in your journal 
8.     Educate yourself and others
9.     Express your feelings out - cry, be mad, be sad – don't bottle up your emotions
10.   Find a therapist
11.   Prepare for crisis times (food, water, medicines, first aid kits, neighborhood organizing) and be ready work together with others
12.   Appreciate all you have; practice gratitude
13.   Do normal things, play, garden,
14.   Create - art, music, poetry, dance
15.   Breathe
16.   Seek larger meaning, clarify your priorities, explore your spiritual beliefs
17.   Recognize that life is a temporary gift; face the existential reality of your own death so you can take risks
18.   Be with loved ones and love the ones you're with
19.   Connect with nature (walks, gardening, animals, communion)
20.   Keep falling in love with Creation – with all our brothers and sisters in the plant and animal world

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A Mystics Prayer for Creation

Divine Consciousness of Life, Earth and Cosmos, God of all names and none, holy Presence dwelling in every creature, we come to you on our knees, in guilt and shame, in sorrow and dread, admitting horrific crimes against Creation. Listening to Earth's dying cries, we acknowledge our sins of arrogance, apathy, selfishness, plunder and rape. Our "stewardship" of Creation has been a tragic joke. In failure and profound remorse, we humbly seek forgiveness and guidance - we have completely lost our way and stand to lose so much more.
We know you, Divine One. We share your Being and Consciousness. We are you when we cease pretending to be someone else, someone separate and superior, someone in charge. In abject surrender, in ego-shattering fear and grief, in naked helplessness, we seek the only path home: we return to you. As the fires and storms of human foolishness consume our grandiosity, we ask you to receive us, Divine One, help us return to Creation.
Born of Earth, we can live nowhere else. We are the latest blossom of your enchantingly beautiful, infinitely mysterious, love-drenched creativity - the 14-billion-year evolution of yourself - and our home is here. Can a fish live out of water? Can a bird fly with no air? Can humans survive the cold toxic radiation of space? Desperate plans, false solutions, more foolishness.  
But what can we do? Divine One, what do you need from us? Even as we ask, words burst from sacred consciousness:
"Be still. Be silent. Stop talking. Turn off TV and cell phone. Go outside. Open wide your eyes. I shine before you as Creation: vibrant, colorful, alive; the symphony of your life and destiny. Look intensely. Look without thought. Open your senses: seasons of Earth, power of wind, greenness of plant, wetness of rain, warmth of sun, smell of soil, abundance of life, chatter of bird and squirrel, busyness of ant and worm, darkness of night, love-making everywhere, all rising in the holiness of Creation. You don't have to figure this out because you are Creation. Let the one you were born to be take you home. Creation will heal you, then your tenderness, joy, and adoration will heal Creation."
May the Earth bless and keep us,
May truth lead the way,
May the ancestors see our efforts,
May peace finally stay.
May the heart inform our journey,
May Creation bring us home,   
May our lives be deeply planted,
And may we know we're not alone.

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We Are Being Called by Creation to Act

We are in the early stages of a catastrophic disturbance of Earth's equilibrium and our collective awakening must be equal to it. Such an apocalypse is always spiritual. Our challenge must be to surrender our old skins of identity, time and story – who and where we think we are - and experience instead the inner divine Self of the universe filling us with unending gifts of love, compassion, joy, spontaneity, creativity, playfulness and celebration; and the divinity of Creation freely offering her beauty, abundance, sustenance, diversity, delight, and the direct wisdom of the natural world. Divinity and Creation are calling us to act. We must move our awareness from the left-brain, narrative-driven, top-down prison of patriarchy to a right-brain love-drenched mysticism and then blend the two hemispheres in a new vision of life. We can't know what's going to happen but we can respond from love and enlightenment. And perhaps the ultimate purpose of this catastrophe may be to evolve a new human consciousness because humanity's old order has become terminally corrupt, destructive and unjust. In the unity of Self and Creation, any act pregnant with love and wonder benefits the whole of existence - we join the creative unfolding of an infinitely loving universe, trusting its consciousness to guide us to our heart's work.

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More on the Making of a Mystical Activist

The experience of Creation as sacred reality provides experiential ingredients that evoke the mystical activist in us; so, too, does the experience of the inner divine.
In my book, The Divine Human, I describe the transformational effects allowing the divine Self to permeate the personality. The mystical experience of Self can also be central to the making of a mystical activist. And in case you fear this process only triggers personal grandiosity, remember that the experience of Self dissolves the self-idea altogether – it's not about "you," it's about being lived by the loving consciousness pervading the universe and dwelling in the depths of your own being.
As the personality transforms in sacred consciousness, supernal energies flow through us, inflaming love, replacing understanding with direct perception, and instilling both kindness and courage in our activism. And while we may not immediately look different in this state, we are living into our higher self and a new kind of person, a divine being in motion. This is why our spiritual practices are so important - we become what we meditate on, and as consciousness cleanses, meditation opens to the divine and we express its nature through our own.
This radical metamorphosis of self has amazing consequences, uncovering a natural wellspring of ecstasy, expansive love for the world, awe and transfigured perception, inner stillness even in motion, a comprehensive grasp of ultimate issues, and the patience to "show up" each day for the work of love in whatever conditions we face. Our separateness dissolves into Presence and new creativity awakens. This inflowing divinity also energizes our intrinsic gifts for the world, as they, too, are divine in nature. For me, that means writing, teaching, explaining, and living in mystical consciousness. For you, it may stir natural talents often taken for granted or new ones you never expected. Whatever we were uniquely meant to bring into this world becomes our contribution to climate activism. We each weave a divine thread into the sacred fabric of protest, healing and renewal.
As described in Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis, this incarnation then moves steadily from mystic to prophet as we open the right-brain's mystical consciousness and direct connections to soul, Creation, ancestors, and other spiritual beings. This work is profound and profoundly transformational. I describe the divine human hoping to excite you, help you find this experience for yourself, and give freely of your own divine nature. Whatever your activism, may it be further awakened in divine consciousness.

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The Interesting Neuropsychology Behind Mystical Activism

The left brain's verbal-conceptual mode constantly generates the identity, time and story beliefs that structure our goals, trigger our emotions, and create our unconscious by keeping awareness away from feelings and issues inconsistent with our social beliefs or persona. Because language and thought rule the left brain, we cannot experience mystical consciousness in its world because we are too busy thinking. Remember, mystical consciousness is found when thought is silenced and awareness opens to a larger, all-pervading consciousness.

As described in Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis, the right brain houses our mystical consciousness but there's a problem. The right brain also houses our awareness of emotions, and both conscious and unconscious emotions can occlude mystical awareness. Embroiled in distressing emotions, we rarely seek mystical consciousness, unknowingly undermining our spiritual progress.
Interestingly, the bicameral (dual) mind can be observed in split-face analysis, which involves examining how the two sides of a person's face often convey very different emotional expressions. The easiest way to do this is to place a mirror perpendicularly on the center vertical line of a photograph of a face such that one side appears on both sides. We then compare to two different faces keeping in mind that facial expressions are controlled by the contralateral (opposite) side of the brain. Particularly evident with people in distress, we begin to notice is that the left side of the face (right hemisphere) often reveals a person's underlying emotions (anger, fear, sadness, hatred, depression), while the right side (left hemisphere) presents expressions meant to convey positive or socially acceptable feelings and motivations. In this manner, we observe the emotions and motivations hidden behind an individual's social façade.


How do these observations affect our perception of Creation? Most of our time is occupied busily managing the subtle ongoing conflict between what we really feel or want, consciously and unconsciously, and what think we should show the world. This process not only takes a lot of energy, it also distracts us from the spiritual work of experiencing mystical consciousness. If we truly want to experience Creation as Divinity, therefore, we need to silence thought, calm emotion, surrender personal goals, and tune into pure consciousness, thus moving our attention from the habitual thoughts and beliefs supporting our social personal (left brain) to a thought-free consciousness that reveals Creation (right brain). This is why meditation and contemplative practices are so important in supporting our spiritual growth and evolution into mystics.

As the climate crisis deepens, we will need to practice more diligently to prevent distracting or distressing beliefs and emotions from undermining our work as Earth activists, for we need to maintain our mystical awareness to the divine world to provide continuing guidance, inspiration, and support.

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Finding Divinity in Creation

I believe the climate crisis must bring us into the literal consciousness of divinity as Creation if we are to survive. Not the judgmental dualistic man-fashioned God of the past overseeing the fallen world, but the sacred fabric of nature herself. Experiencing the all-pervading divine consciousness of existence can heal and change us. This is the message of the mystics from across time and religion. The moment of our evolutionary leap is now. We either wake up to save - and sanctify - humanity or we tear apart all that is sacred and all that supports us. We must finally know the true nature and purpose of our lives.


I ask myself, how do I live this in my everyday life and as a citizen of the universe? I constantly stand at the edge of Creation, move in and out, but I deeply want to stay longer and find ways of bringing more people into the mystical consciousness of the omnipresent divine world. It's not that hard to glimpse and once glimpsed, the possibilities expand. That's what all my writing and experiential exercises have been about for the past 20 years.

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What Do You Love Most?

When a child is in a medical crisis, parents drop everything to do whatever has to be done. They live at the hospital, change their daily routines, devote themselves to saving their world. This is now the situation in our world. Creation is the crisis. Creation is everything we are and need and value. A storm is coming of enormous proportions. We sense it growing. We feel a diffuse, unnamable fear. The darkness will affect everybody because the world as we know it is coming to an end. We are confronting a vast collective process of dying and letting go, of disintegration and transformation, a process that is so much bigger than we are. And we are the only hope. You and me and all whom we love. Hope cannot passively await some savior, politician or scientist – the kind of hope that seeks to dodge this bullet and magically make the problem go away; real hope can only come from our love of life, all life, our life. What gets you up in the morning? What would break your heart? How will you reorder your life to care for what you love most? What are you willing to give up? Business-as-usually must dissolve now into the intense divine flow of being consciousness that takes us into the sacred dimension of response. Death, and birth, and hope, and life. There is nowhere to run. It's time. What do you love most? There lies the hope.

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Return to Eden

The climate crisis is about returning to the Eden we betrayed eons ago and learning to live again in continuing awareness of the sacred world. I want to return to Eden. I want to live in the mystical consciousness of Creation. That is the road back to climate health, kindness and peace. This is not a fairy tale, it is the truest perception of the Earth we have. Yet this is a remarkable assertion. Few would believe it. But it's the mystical message of every religion and every mystic. And it is the ultimate answer to the climate crisis - all other activism follows more powerfully from it. Let us realize that this world is the divine expressing herself in form and substance and honor Creation in every thought and act.

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