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HistoryPhilosophyThe History of Religion

Karen Armstrong – The Clash of Civilizations

It has been a while since Sentient Seas has published anything. The main reason being that I have been very busy with other publishing projects so I hope you enjoy this piece – the first since 1.1.17. It is an address by the scholar and author Karen Armstrong given to a packed Leeds Town Hall for the 2007 Schumacher North Lectures. I recorded this for a film and very much enjoyed her delivery.

Karen ArmstrongArmstrong is internationally recognised as an authority on the history of religion, particularly Islam, and has written extensively on the problems of inter-religious understanding and fundamentalism. Her work points towards the possibility of a new inclusive, post-modern spirituality that could help to heal the tragic divisions and misunderstandings that are apparent today.

As it happens of late, on occasion, I have sadly been witness to incidences of anti-Muslim prejudice. This disturbs me profoundly as those uttering such, aside from such conduct being extremely disrespectful, generally have not the slightest understanding,  on any level – of what they are seeking to denigrate with such utterances. I feel also that there is an axiom of prejudice that has been exascerbated by certain media outlets over nearly the last two decades or so that has sought to deliberately demonise Islam and its believers.

As it happens almost all Muslim folk that I have met over my life have been sincere, hard-working, warm, and generous people – and it pains me to hear of an entire faith group being bullied and scorned to suit various nefarious and misguided agendas. So pulling this out of the archives has been a reaction to that.

This piece is published on the 11th of September 2017, the 16th anniversary of the horrendous attack on New York City in 2001. An event, which in some ways helped define an atmosphere for the early part of the 21st Century, and proceeded the hideous wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in more recent time.

EsotericismPhilosophyPsychology

Podcast 8. Phil T. Mistlberger – From three 20th Century Magi to the Wisdom of the Elder.

 

Numbpt-mistlbergerer 8 of the Sentient Seas podcast series is an interview conducted with Phil T. Mistlberger who is a Vancouver based author, transpersonal therapist, and seminar and workshop facilitator.  His four books focus on eastern and western esotericism. Phil has an academic background in Health Studies and English literature but got restless with academia in his early 20’s and went travelling for months through India, Nepal, and the Tibetan plateau, staying variously in Buddhist monasteries and Indian ashrams. He returned to Canada in the mid 80’s and graduated from a transpersonal therapist’s training program in 1988. Since then he has worked as a transformational therapist and workshop facilitator. He has had a number of transpersonal influences, studying and practicing in many traditions, including the Gurdjieff Work, the Western esoteric tradition, Gnosticism, Kabbalah, A Course in Miracles, a decade as a disciple of the Indian mystic Osho, many forms of depth psychology and therapy, and most major Eastern pathways, including Tantra, Zen, Tibetan and Theravadin Buddhism, and Advaita.

Our conversation in podcast eight includes: the making of Phil’s ‘Dangerous Magi’ book published in 2010;  “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21; The Fourth Way – petals in the water and roots in the mud; low self esteem, sources, and its consequences if unexamined; sharpening boundaries; self confidence and the power of belief; levels of karma; not taking things personally; the role of the western esoteric tradition in time to come; the British historian Ronald Hutton; the fear of an inner view versus the effect of transformed individuals; the human ego is ancient because it is about the impulse of survival; the weakness of the spiritual impulse versus the ego; ‘My Dinner With Andre’ and “points of light”; conscious relating and authenticity; elderhood – when does it happen?; and active curiosity.

If you’d like to investigate more of Phil’s work his website can be found at: http://www.ptmistlberger.com. The Samurai Brotherhood can be found here: http://samuraibrotherhood.com.

The music break of this episode is a Mass Spectrometer song called ‘Luminar’. It was partially inspired by a 2001 laboratory experiment in the USA where physicists may have accelerated  particles to 300 times the speed of light in a caesium gas chamber. It appeared that because of the unimaginable speed of the particles during the experiment that experienced time was actually going backwards – with the particles moving at an estimated  8,980,139 km/second (or 5,580,000 miles/sec). If you dig the tune and want to buy it – and help support their work – go to https://massspectrometer.bandcamp.com and find it within their 2014 EP ‘Guild Hall’.

Cosmology

Be Sentient-Seas! New T-shirt series available.

 

 

dsc_0230-sent-wht-on-blue    dsc_0287-sent-whte-on-blk    dsc_0239-sent-wht-on-red

A limited edition print run of t-shirts has been produced for sentient-seas.net. They’re either cotton or bamboo fabric and are made with water based ink. They are available in white on red, white on black, white on blue, white on dark blue & black on white.

If ye fancy declaring your interest to the world about this wee website and supporting it please contact the editor to arrange things and a paypal payment. The contact email is on the home page. Sizes and colour availability in male and female sizes are changing daily as they are moving quickly. So first in, first serve   🙂

The shirts are £8.50 each and the packaging and postage rates are as follows:

UK (1st class mail) £4.00

Europe (standard airmail) £6.50

World Zone 1  (standard airmail) £8.50 – Africa, Middle East, Asia & Western Papua, South America, Canada, USA.

World Zone 2  (standard airmail) £9.50 – Singapore, Oceania, Australia/NZ.

Climate Change AdaptationEcological ethicsEcologyScience

Podcast 7. Charlie Gray – Urban community farming & the connection of nature.

charlie-farm-2016

Charlie Gray at the Horton Community Farm 2016. Picture by Laura Buston.

Number 7 of the Sentient Seas podcast series is an interview conducted with the English permaculturist and community grower Charlie Gray. She has an academic background in ethnobotany as well as community work overseas and is one of the co-founders of Horton Community Farm Co-operative Ltd after joining a group of people who as part of Transition Bradford decided to act upon a permaculture design which had been created as part of a permaculture design course. She is interested in finding new paths for organic food production systems in urban areas and the need for influencing planning and design to incorporate food growing into the fabric of cities as we move into the era of climate change and fossil fuel depletion.

Our conversation includes: discussing her experiences in post Contra-war Nicaragua in the 1990’s, the model of Horton Community Farm, food production as part of a broader system, providing a place to be and connect with nature for asylum seekers and refugees, working with forest school sessions, permaculture design as a tool, the palette of produce from the farm, the function of the margins, the usage of porous walkways, networks, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, the Permaculture LAND project, LILAC self build co-housing, planning keeping the 7th future generation in mind, alienated youth and manifested behaviour, the nature connection work of Jon Young, instinctual capacities/the implicit powers of deep connection, the cultural emergence work of Jon Young and Looby Macnamara, and a practice of gratitude.

The music break of this episode is a demo of a new Mass Spectrometer song called ‘The Liquor Well’. Partially written in response to seeing the residual after effects of 19th Century industrialisation on two sites in 2014 and 2015. If you dig the tune and want to hear more of their work go to https://massspectrometer.bandcamp.com where you can support the artists by purchasing their music and t-shirts, or https://soundcloud.com/mass-spectrometer where some of their soundtrack material can be heard.

Contact links for the Horton Community Farm are: http://www.hcf.org.uk https://www.facebook.co/hortoncommunityfarm @HortonComFarm https://twitter.com/HortonComFarm

The header photograph of the Horton Community Farm was taken by http://thepollengardens.com and published with kind permission.

CosmologyEcological ethicsEsotericismHistoryPhilosophy

Podcast 6. Dr Sean Kelly – Coming Home: The Birth & Transformation of The Planetary Era.

Sean KellyEpisode 6 of the Sentient Seas podcast series is an interview conducted with the Canadian philosopher and author Dr Sean Kelly. Sean Kelly is a Professor in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in the USA. Along with his abiding interest in the work of Jung, Hegel, and Morin, his current research areas include the evolution of consciousness, integral ecologies, and transpersonal and integral theory.

I was turned onto his 2010 book ‘Coming Home: The Birth and Transformation of the Planetary Era’ via the Carolyn Baker Lifeboat Hour in recent time. [her podcast page can be found here… https://carolynbaker.net/podcasts/]

‘Coming Home’ is an elegantly written big picture study of the evolution of consciousness and cosmology, and the fractal patterns that Dr Kelly has found in terms of cluster periods of transformation over recorded history – beginning with the axial period (as per Jaspers of 800 BCE – 200 BCE). After reading it I just had to go sit on a beach in Wales for a spell and just think about it and absorb the ideas. Needless to say I loved it. It is a wonderful book and one of the best things I’ve read in years. It is a cosmology, consciousness, and historical epistemological masterclass series in a 200 page book.

The following comes from the book sleeve: “With the threat of global climate change, a looming mass extinction of species, and increasingly complex and volatile geopolitical relations, the entire Earth community has entered a most critical phase of what the author describes as the ‘Planetary Era’. This era began some five hundred years ago with the conquest of the Americas and the Copernican revolution in cosmology, but it is only now becoming a defining feature of human consciousness on a global scale.”

I approached Sean to do an interview about ‘Coming Home’ and the issues it touches on, and he graciously accepted and this podcast is the result of our discussion. Our conversation includes discussion on: his original ideas for his book which originally had the title ‘The Prodigal Soul’; fractal patterns in the arc of history; Hegel and wholeness; the triphasic structure; clusters of transformation i.e. the new enlightenment of 1880 – 1900; complexio oppositorum – the mystery of the absolute; dealing with the shadow – and conceiving of it as a practical and ethical responsibility; self remembrance and its benefits; a new narrative from a growing global network of critical consciousness; current power structures, momentum, and resource sequestering; the innate and largely unexamined problem of instrumentalism; the challenging of the private ownership of the commons; miracles – big and small; the organic expansion of the great turning versus the great unravelling; possible visions of 2100 AD; transition and big ecological issues to sort out to avoid massive overshoot; facing the deepening shadow as a priority; the immaturity of contemporary western culture; transcendence through reaching to historical roots, a revival of western rites of initiation; and David Bohm and the notion of the implicate order.

For further information on Sean Kelly’s work go to http://ciis.academia.edu/SeanKelly

The music on the podcast is a tune called ‘Avignon’ by Mass Spectrometer and can be found here, https://massspectrometer.bandcamp.com/track/avignon. If you dig it please buy it and help support the artists who made it.

 

 

 

Ecological ethicsEnergyPhilosophyScience

Podcast 5. Dr Mike Joy – The ecological realities of New Zealand.

MIke Joy (WQNZ)Episode 5 of the Sentient Seas podcast series is an interview conducted with the New Zealand ecologist and author Dr Mike Joy. For some brief background New Zealand currently has some serious problems with water pollution in rivers and lakes, particularly nitrate and phosphate leaching and effluent runoff, as well as other ecological problems like biodiversity loss. Mike Joy’s work is at the forefront of understanding the depth of these problems and in understanding what new pathways could help address them. Our conversation includes discussion on: ecologists cataloguing biodiversity decline, flawed legal tools in protecting landscapes, changes in land use in agriculture, the lack of awareness of cumulative effects, problems of intensification and nitrate pollution, fossil fuel linkages/calorific deficits and the challenges to future food production, the current opportunity for diversification, the outdated precepts of non-ecological economics i.e. GDP, ecosystem services assessments, integration/worldview and cosmology, and that humans and their systemic harnessing of the natural world now actually make our species the ecology of the planet.

For further information on Mike Joy’s work go to https://waterqualitynz.info

The music on the podcast is a tune called ‘Anchorite’ by Mass Spectrometer and can be found here, https://massspectrometer.bandcamp.com/track/anchorite-3

 

EnergyHistoryScience

Alice Friedemann – When Trucks Stop Running

Editor: Charles A.S. Hall; Springer Briefs in Energy, Springer 2016

21st June 2016  

A book review by Michael Canning

Friedemann AJ - When trucks stop running

In chapter 20 Friedemann quotes the late Randy Udall, a co-founder of ASPO-USA: “We have been living like gods. Our task now is to learn how to live like humans. Our descent
will not be easy”. A key component to that descent will be a renewed understanding of transport, which underpins industrialised existence. America’s economy runs on the grace of some 10 million trucks that run on fossil fuel to keep the every-day movement of fossil fuel engrained goods and food happening. Oil to industrialized countries is like water to fish; we’re so embedded within it, and its touch in everything we do and depend on, its invisible – until the supply stutters. We have become acculturated to enormous and continual energy use, quite unlike any culture before us.

Sadly though, and perhaps because of its existential nature, which prompts deeper questioning of the socioeconomic structures and policies that reign at present, the notion of the finitude of fossil fuel depletion is a troublesome political hot potato; just like population growth, climate change, and biodiversity loss. To enable further denial of the depth of these interlinked problems and biophysical realities would be an appalling cultural immaturity, and we would be effectively shortchanging and disrespecting our descendants. As Friedemann notes, “few people appreciate how limited the options will be once our premium abundant fossil fuels are gone – just when we need them to build very energy-intensive replacements”.

Energy education on a societal basis needs a major kick up the backside and so it is with pleasure that I commend Springer and editor Charles Hall for bringing about their Briefs in Energy series and specifically this publication. This concise 132-page book is a highly welcome addition to the critical thinking on the enormous issues and choices involved in transportation and its relationship to fossil fuels and climatic disruption. While its focus is mostly on the choices facing the different modes of transportation in the USA its intent and scenario exploration is just as relevant to non-American audiences and it includes various fascinating facts on European infrastructure i.e. the failed Spanish state investment model for photo-voltaic energy generation.

The chapters feature snappy titles like ‘Why you should Love Trains’, ‘Hydrogen, the Homeopathic Energy Crisis Remedy’, and ‘The Electric Blues: Energy Storage for Calm and Cloudy Days’ and presents lucid explanations of the key issues and difficulties facing the USA. Important subjects covered include: energy return over energy invested (EROI) models and their applications; the socio-ecological linkages of food and populations; peak oil and peak coal; the enormous cost of new forms of new energy infrastructure installation; the oil wars of the last 25 years; the lack of investment into rail systems; the problem of the storage of energy from alternative sources i.e. intermittency of wind; the problems of batteries and in improving them; the aged electrical and engineered infrastructure; the current and future bogey of nuclear power; and the issues within trying to accommodate alternative energy sources into the grid and for vehicles ; the need to ditch air freight; and the urgent need to reassess quickly port infrastructure and the role of ships.

The book is well researched and the incorporation of numerous snippets of fascinating historical information about the growth and changes of transportation modes since the 19th century were one of the highlights of the book for me. Friedemann used to be a systems analyst in the shipping sector, so her time into the world of commercial transport has enabled strong and thoughtful insights. She has a lively and concise writing style in a topic area that can be somewhat dry, and another reason I like this book is its gentle sense of humour, which is often absent in technical books. And given the scale of the existential problems that the book outlines – this is a welcome additive.

There were only a few minor things that detracted from making this an excellent text. Firstly while it has a good contents section it doesn’t have an index, which makes returning to certain pertinent points a somewhat lengthy searching process. In addition there has been a slight lack of attention given to some of the coloured diagrams, which in some instances have not reproduced well from their original sources and could have done with being tidied up a bit more.

I believe this book should be required reading for all relevant national and local government employees i.e. those involved in planning, transport, and economic policy, as well as transport consultants. In my experience the latter worlds do not exhibit anywhere near the critical knowledge that is required around energy per se, let alone fossil fuel depletion, and the amount of energy illiteracy in society is something that cannot continue. Friedemann makes the important point in her conclusions that, notwithstanding the issues on boundaries, that utilizing EROI analysis “makes it possible for society and policy makers to investigate our options and make the best energy choices”.

To pretend that the fossil fueled economy and infinite economic growth will continue ad infinitum into the 21st Century and to continue with national and local planning frameworks that have the latter as their pretext is delusional, and intellectually dishonest. The innate linkages between our energy use and its wider impact on societal and hydro-ecological stability cannot be fudged anymore either. Its high time we as a species stop pretending we’re the masters of the universe, and further evolve our thinking about everything, especially energy as the fundament to existence, its use and its effects. Indeed, as Friedemann writes, “we should go into the future with our eyes wide open. We have no choices but to assess how much energy goes into all of the things we take for granted. That includes our food, our vehicles, and how we go about moving goods around the planet like gods”.