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Archive for August, 2012

Warp Drive

Astrophysicist Adam Frank wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times called Alone in the Void. Thank you to my dharma friend Kathy Harper for letting me know about this one! Inspired by the upcoming event of the Voyager I spacecraft leaving our solar system, Frank’s main point is that it will be a very long time – if ever – until we humans can visit even the nearest star. So, we had better get our act together if we want to survive within the limited resources of our planetary system.

I see mindfulness going hand-in-hand with education as the way to a better collective future. It is the clarifying factor that lets us use our knowledge in a way that is driven by the long-term needs of all, not just our own short-term wants and desires.

Current research indicates that, for the last 20,000 years or so, our human habit has been to move to a new area, use up the resources, then move on to new pastures. As Frank points out, we’re running out of pastures, and we won’t have warp drive to take us to new ones. I see mindfulness as a major factor in helping us wake up and end this unsustainable cycle of constant growth.

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Here in LA the sun is out and it’s warming up. Just another hot August day, eh?

One way to increase your mindfulness is to treat each day as if it were your last. This gives real juice to your awareness. Mortality is the great motivator. If there is no deadline, there’s no real need to finish the job. When that deadline is looming we get focused.
If this truly were your last day, you’d be intensely aware of every moment.

Another way is to treat each day as if it were your first. The first day at school or on the job we’re fully involved. This is perhaps a more positive approach than treating each day as if it were your last, which might leave you grasping at each moment in desperation. If it’s the first day your attitude is one of opening up to fresh new things.

Yet another way is to treat this day as your ONLY day. It’s brand new, it’s your one shot, so give it all you’ve got. In a way, this is the most realistic – today may seem like just another summer day, but in fact every day is perfectly unique. So how do we treat this day? As Zen Master Unmon said, “Every day is a good day.”

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