Monday, July 6, 2015

Have I mastered the Humble Brag?

Monday is a good day to enter a contest: Monday is a contest.

What's my big idea? This:
Women connect with wild predators and excite love for nature's power... and our own!

Why did you start?
I dated a famous wolf researcher and realized animals are vital to women: we'll be much happier if lions, tigers and bears don't go extinct.

What or who motivates you to keep going?
Women around the world (like the Black Mambas in South Africa) are saving wild predators; when I cheer them on, I feel vicarious joy from their successes.

Who are you helping and what impact are you trying to achieve?
Every little girl or old lady can imagine protecting dangerous beasts in the forest or ocean. Wildlife helps us breathe more deeply.


Why do you need your story told?
Don't miss the opportunity to join me howling and roaring for the benefit of our whole planet. Life is thrilling when we embrace danger for the good of all!

What does success look like to you?
Success may be each woman baring her "fangs" with a triumphant smile and celebrating biodiversity with a fabulous flourish of leopard-print anywhere in the world.

Tell us a story you share with friends and family when talking about your passions.
I wrote a fantasy novel in 2009 about all-women anti-poaching teams saving predators. It turned out such a team was created just then in Gir, India. Last year I got to go meet them!

[One contest I won't enter is the St. Andrew's Prize for Greenwashing Big Oil!]

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's spiritual to let animals to suffer

Ancient Hindus, when choosing a temple site, considered cats to be a bad omen. Modern environmentalists want pet cats to be kept inside, to protect birds. "Stop scaring the birds away," my cats doubtless want to say to humans: "You stay inside." Indoors or out, my cats treat a human lap like a temple, humming their mantra till the sacrilege of human busy-ness destroys nirvana.

I'm not religious. Even generic spirituality repels me by implying human relationships and goals are "attachment" or "desire" (did your yoga teacher trot that out?) If you have any aim, it's to act like neutral countries in World War II: pretend to be Switzerland, above-it-all and chill. Speaking of WWII:
"There are no victims.... You can't change the government, you can't change nuclear waste, but you can change what it means to you."


So says one of Shirley MacLaine's gurus, inspiring the actress recently to dismiss the death camps of the Holocaust as karma. Allow me to guess why spiritual leaders "love what is" when it comes to atrocities: these preachers want us to confuse feeling powerful with being powerful. They don't care that our grip on reality is already warped by video games. Acknowledging victims disturbs our grandiose transcendence of all earthly things. Contrary to pretense, these gurus too are impotent in disasters. And morality would require that the truly powerful attempt justice where none can suffice (as in genocide). So positive-thinker leaders are amoral. They get rich telling us we're magnificent even while we cause horrors like Climate Change.

Why would anyone say we can't prevent toxic waste? Here's one satirical answer:
"If you are critical of anything, you are using your MIND. And remember, you are so much more than your mind. Let it go. ...Dive deeper in... under my influence... and believe everything I say."
(RSD Nation, on the Sedona Method scam) 

[Self-Awareness Program turned out to be Mind-Control Cult] 


Products notably endorsed by Oprah include "The Untethered Soul." In a workshop about it, the speaker asked me, "How can you know that mass extinction is bad?" I said that annihilation of life defines badness. He countered, "We don't know that, say, a nuclear bomb doesn't lead to something wonderful. If Hitler hadn't existed, maybe we wouldn't be here now." (Of course I stammered something to the effect that I'd gladly forsake my own existence to erase Hitler's atrocities.) Condoning or rationalizing human extermination is evil.... and chill.

Human warmth is "co-dependence" or "people pleasing" (A.A. Twelve-Step meets Sedona Method, with hordes of us now addicted to the "Law of Attraction.")

Partial truths becomes lucrative charades. These lovely lies seduce innumerable Westerners. Our culture is lousy with bastard children of Eastern philosophies that developed where (unlike in democracies) people had almost no hope of improving their physical circumstances. Self-absorbed passivity is an inevitable result where "all beings are puppets on a carousel." My Untethered Soul workshop leader put it colorfully: "I'm God in drag, just watching the show." That mind-set is particularly regressive for women in the modern world. It's already too easy for us to be passive and "in drag."

Life coaches and entire careers are launched by the notion that silver linings are all that glitters. They mesmerize you with what you want to hear: the status quo is the eternal now. Soothingly, this new escapist orthodoxy fits you in with all the locals stoned on Medicinal. Now-legal drug dealers rationalize the bounty they reap from hapless substance abusers: "I believe I deserve it, so the universe will serve it."

Or if not, meh. Fatalism is satori. Drug-like, no-drama reductio ad absurdam "consciousness" portrays an enlightenment where eventually the mind becomes a closed loop: what you have must be what you want, and your narrow horizons must be where you belong.

Conflict is someone else's issue. Your self-esteem is so robust, if you fail to comprehend something, the fault couldn't possibly lie in you. Intellect and discernment? That's just "separateness" and "disconnect."

It sounds absurd but we really are surrounded by people convinced that thoughts control reality. They seem and in fact may be perfectly nice. But when you mention something unpleasant to them, they actually believe you are creating it by focusing on it, so they pity or resent your "negativity." To acknowledge some failure of humanity is to disturb the pristine thought creations of folks who have, say, seen “What the Bleep Do We Know” (a popular stealth infomercial for the Ramtha cult). Do you dare deny that writing “love” or “Buddha” on a bottle of water will change H2O into a magical elixirActress Gwyneth Paltrow is the tip of that superstitious iceberg. (Down its slippery slope are two hypnotists I know personally who believe that water has emotions. When they tell their clients, it gives a new meaning to brainwashing.)

 We never hear from the folks who tried the "mind cure" but died.

[ Altered States are used for Ritual Abuse ]

Of course your attitude affects your experience. Yet it's grotesque to extrapolate that, say, chanting "Peace" will end wars. Pseudo-science pop psychology draws the most far-reaching conclusions from literally narrow experiments like double-slit science and Random Number Generators. Yes, it's a glorious feeling to identify with quantum physics, cherry-pick data, preach to a converted echo-chamber, and indulge the limitless sense that the planet will be fine (if that matters) when you feel good about yourself. But was Tibet invaded because the monks there prayed defectively? Disciplines that may be new to you have been around for centuries. As the Dalai Lama says, "World peace will not achieve through prayer. World peace achieve only through our action!"

Even if "life is an illusion," moral action can keep you from sliding into negligence and damaging your own soul. (Don't think you have a soul? Hold all truth to be sacred, keep doing good deeds, and you'll start to feel it.)

I've seen a ghost. Unfortunately ethics prevent me from capitalizing on such things, unlike the author of Proof of Heaven. As the Dalai Lama said about him, when a man makes extraordinary claims, a "thorough investigation" is required, to ensure "that person reliable, never telling lie," and has "no reason to lie." Taking advantage of our griefs and our fears around death like so many opportunists, Eben Alexander, MD, is apparently a con artist. The afterlife probably isn't what we'd like. Time itself is illusory. One certainty remains: con artists tell you what you want to hear.

Mystical forces exist. I often know who's phoning me without looking at caller ID. I've met folks on the astral plane. Yeah: wow. But sensitivity and integrity don't necessarily go together. Too many tricksters inflate a little psychic ability into a big hoax.

Just because God exists doesn't mean you should believe everything you want about Her (ha ha). Serendipity doesn't absolve you of responsibility. Miracles and meaningful coincidences occur but it's pure speculation to conclude "there are no accidents." There's no proof that prayer or meditation stops disasters, in fact, the opposite: ignoring climate change causes it. And escapism breeds consumers and speeds mass extinction.

So I don't buy it, no matter how it's packaged. And packaged it is. Bland, self-serving delusion has become an industry. It's the spiritual version of "Supersize Me": the delicious lie is cheap at first, but soon it's the only thing that makes you feel good, like McDonalds tasting better than home dinners. It's like when Chinese communists offered party membership to take the place of clan loyalty. The problem with conformity is that it makes you very sure of yourself while it eats your brain.
Shape-shifting Hindu Deity Hanuman

Prayers, "awareness training" techniques and fellowship groups can neutralize any mental agitation; incidentally they may neutralize your sense of justice and decency. You're rendered infantile, craving this pap of innocence to which churches, cults and seminar programs are all too eager to addict you.
Zen is hip. "You treat everybody the same. That's Buddhist," a psychiatrist said to a psychopath.
"No Drama" creates no accountability. I attended a presentation by Carolyn Myss, the famous intuitive, and she advised anti-civic things like, "If anyone tries to complicate your life, turn and walk away from them" and look beyond this world to other galaxies. In my experience, any good educator is trying to "complicate your life." And this planet desperately needs your devotion. Psychic ability does not indicate ethics, especially when the DVD is available at the door, only $69.86, exonerating you from responsibility for your own planet. If you believe that channeled entities have super powers, why not be wary of their misuse of said power? Power corrupts. Why wouldn't greed exist on all levels, even beyond the Milky Way? It's easy to become pawns of megalomaniacs who sell you the promise of recreating you in their glossy image.

Confusing correlation and causation, here's a typical calculation from Minister Mary Morrissey:
"Your income is the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Why? Because people who spend time together share a common level of consciousness, and the person who knows how to make fifty thousand dollars a month is at a different level of awareness than the person who only knows how to make fifty thousand dollars a year."
...Or maybe we just hang out with our homies, Mary. I personally avoid spending time with ministers of for-profit churches. I wonder if this is your thought process: "God is love; I love money; therefore money is God."

Someone is milking our sacred cows. Capitalism has married non-violent communication. Their baby is as cardboard as a GMO veggie burger. Chewing in unison feels like Oneness.

Here's one new Bible, per the NY Times:

“The Secret” is not really a book but a series of misquotations from historical figures and fraudulent maxims from no-count hucksters.

"The Secret" is that you narrow your focus and throw out any evidence that doesn't fit. "Law of Attraction" creates a separate reality for entitled narcissists where acknowledging environmental degradation perpetuates it. "What you resist persists," eh? These wise ones tend to empower themselves on Climate Change - something that dwarfs anyone's hedonistic navel-gazing - by shrugging it off as End Times. (Remember 2012? Oh, yeah: apocalypse was averted by meditators. Mmm hmmm.) Is it any wonder that - under our watch - Obama okayed fracking and Arctic drilling? RIP Mother Earth.

Till the End, let's keep chanting to ourselves that, in between hurricanes, left-wing sustainable gardening will cancel out right-wing weapons arsenals.

[ Addiction to spirituality can numb emotions ]

Do you disagree? Really? Or are you upset because your fantasies got jostled?
Please don't stay silent when "spirituality"
condones our killing the biosphere.

To honor what's authentic, it takes true strength of character.

Or... a cat.

As Chinese put it, "The Dao that can be spoken is not the Dao." However, the meow that can be spoken is the Meow. God's Creation includes countless other species even more fragile than humans.
Want to feel God-like? Be accountable.
Reportedly even the Dalai Lama said, “The best meditation is critical thinking – followed by action.”
Thoughts do have substance. So at this juncture, if it doesn't stop mass extinction, it's self-centered materialism, folks, not spirituality.

Fortunately many people are willing to protect wildlife from harm.
(How do you know that Heaven isn't where animals sit in judgment of us? Save the Climate, and maybe eternity will be spent being caressed by elephant trunks and licked by lions! Or fluffy kittens. Yes, you like fluffy kittens, don't you?)


VC Bestor
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[This post first published in "Namaste India" as The meow that can be spoken is the Meow]

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Man bites Dog? Lady chokes Poison Air in China

While the rest of us go shopping, one woman braved the menace of her government to address the pollution that - as the world knows - is the cost of our "Made in China" economy.
China Pollution - photo by J. Kesler

Chai Jing released her documentary "Under the Dome" via social media, where it went viral before Beijing's iron fist forced it to be widely erased. Chinese citizens still dare to see it and share copies privately.

The film has become China's flashpoint for enraged sufferers to vent: their pollution is often unbearable, a literally breathtaking toxicity. Chai Jing blames it for giving cancer to the fetus in her womb. Amid the scientific evidence in the film, her baby is a poignant leitmotif; Chai Jing's feminine approach - as a concerned mother - probably facilitated her message squeaking past censors in the first place.

Chai Jing, journalist and environmentalist

Chai Jing is only the most visible of women in China who try to do something about the poison that surrounds them.


These ladies risk bullying or worse. It's normal for jailers to beat activists and then deny them any doctor. But, as a member of "Tiananmen Mothers" under house arrest says, "Justice is in our hands." The totalitarian rulers strive to atomize each activist in China. So each woman alone kindles the hope for decency to blossom in her community. Like an atom, she is elemental.

China: Illegal to Protest Domestic Violence
Ecology and feminism go hand in hand. Ironically, Chinese women were arrested for having stickers that said, “Police: go arrest those who committed sexual harassment.” Ladies there must take take drastic measures to confront child molesters. How much more daunting, to stand up to toxic industries and the financiers that run them in cahoots with corrupt officials.


Ram through ethics to sate your greed, or honor what's inconvenient and vulnerable: ecosystems and women's rights.


From the seed of democracy in Hong Kong, nature may bloom
Protest can be successful. Pollution may drive China's people to seize their human rights and demand democracy. What do they have to lose: the air they breathe?

In the West, we too have governments poisoned by industry greed. Our power as citizens is like a fetus within us whose cancer we can cure.


While we struggle here for justice, remember the courage of women protecting their part of the planet in China. Chinese women's activism for the environment: it's lighting the world on Yin/Yang.

We can be tourists on this planet.
Or maybe we can save tigers from extinction.

What China accomplishes with intimidation and imprisonment of its people, we in rich countries do with our unspoken agreement not to mention to acquaintances and neighbors that (for instance) we just snuffed Vanuatu, we'll ignore Climate Change, and let's politely continue business as usual. Ecofeminist friends and I do hand out cards occasionally that read, "Fanged Wilds & Women Program: a hilarious idea to stop mass extinction." Yes, it's fun! We don't get arrested. Our government doesn't erase our video. Silence is the most insidious form of pollution.

We carry extinction in our wombs. Maternal instinct is smothering the planet in a biofilm of humans. When our motherly urges are redirected to all the other species who have to breathe our poisonous air, the Earth who gave birth to us will be herself reborn.

...or Mother Nature may bag us.

V.C. Bestor,
Director,

Fanged Wilds & Women Program

Twitter@VCBestor 

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Fanged Wilds and Women Program is a 501c3 Tax-Exempt Organization