Some Fierce Words from Matthew Fox

A few words from the Fierce Light interview with Matthew Fox, conducted by Velcrow Ripper. While Matthew is not in the body of the Fierce Light film, he will appear in the bonus disc:

“We’ve raised gluttony to a whole new level with consumerism and greed is a quest for the infinite in the wrong place – the human soul yearns for the infinite and in terms of stuffing ourselves or our closets or what have you with goodies, it doesn’t work. Pretty soon you have to buy a new house with bigger closets – I saw a statistic recently about how many Americans have storage spaces for their stuff –so they not only have houses with their closets for their stuff they also have these storage spaces – stuff on top of stuff on top of stuff.

So simplicity has something to do with saying no to the addiction of consumerism. That has tremendous implications. The American economic system as I understand it, 80 percent of it runs on consumerism, so that means that if we could cut back drastically on the consumer addiction, and that’s what it is, gluttony, it’s the gluttony of consumerism, we could release our economic system so it could serve more important services than just for filling our closets and stuffing our bodies. Which purposes of course a world that works for everybody and economics that works for everybody. And if we had an economics that works for everybody, we wouldn’t have wars. At least we’d have far fewer wars – we wouldn’t have envy, and we wouldn’t have a lot of things that are still running the human enterprise.

Greed is real – it’s a spiritual addiction and the fact is, it’s becoming reincarnated and blessed by the raining economic ideology and we do have to stand up to that. Part of the struggle is one’s own lifestyle, what one can do to live more simply and um, and part of it is thinking differently, like Franklin D. said, don’t change the world, change worlds. By that I think he said, change the way you see the world, the perspective on the world. As we learn to think more interdependently and realize that um, Americans who comprise 4 percent of the worlds population are using about 25-30 percent of the worlds energy, where’s the balance there and how long can that persist, go on.

We can live more simply, but it takes a combination of community willpower and it’s about values getting into the community. And when we see the impact of a greed based economic system and a gluttony based system, and we see that impact on ourselves and our own health and on the earth and so forth. That aughta be enough to move us in another direction.”

Elegant Simplicity

“True surrender does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action. Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is in the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.”
–Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“So. You lost your home. You lost your belongings. You lost your lover. Keep losing. . . lose everything. Then move on to the true loss-ego loss. You can be of service. You can fulfill your destiny. But only with a clear mind and a gentle true heart. You do not need inner fireworks exploding. You are not working towards a Big Bang. All you need to do is be present. You are simply opening to who You are. Who You really are. You are a coiled snake, an untapped resource. Don’t lie dormant all your life. Please. This is real. Lose your silly doubts. Lose them. Lose everything, but trust. Remember Satish.”

~ ~ ~

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Satish Kumar grew up in India. At the age of eight, despite his mother’s objections, he decided to leave home to join a wandering order of Jain monks. His hair was pulled from his head, one strand at a time. He tied a white cotton mask over his mouth, which was to remain in place the rest of his life, to prevent him from accidentally breathing in an insect, and thus taking a life. He was given a small feather duster, in order to whisk the path before him, to protect the caterpillars, the worms, the ants. The Jain’s vow never to harm a living being, no matter how small. Satish began a life of spiritual devotion, living off of alms, teaching in the communities during the winter, studying and meditating in the monastery during the summer.
The years passed in rigorous devotion. Then one day, at the age of eighteen, he was given a book of teachings by a man named Mahatama Gandhi. Satish was suddenly struck by the revelation that for the last decade of his life, he had been living only half of the equation. Gandhi was offering a complete vision: the path of spirituality merged with the path of action. Here was someone who was truly practicing the principles of Ahimsa, of non-violence, not just by avoiding causing injury, but by actively working for social change.

Soon after this breakthrough, Satish and a friend crept away in the dark of night, leaving behind a pile of clothes under their blankets to make it appear as though they were still asleep in bed. The ruse was discovered and they were captured at the train station. It would be a disgrace to both their families and the monastery, if they were to desert the order. But Satish was determined, and finally he did escape, finding a sanctuary in the ashram of Vinobah Bhave, Gandhi’s greatest disciple.
Satish became a spiritual activist, working to uplift the lives of India’s ever expanding ocean of poor. He joined Vinobah’s land “Boondah,” a vast journey on foot across India, asking land owners to give a small percentage of their land to the untouchables. Over the years, more than twenty-three million acres of land was donated to the landless outcastes.

1953 marked another turning point in Satish’s spiritual journey. After seeing Bertrand Russell on television getting arrested for protesting nuclear weapons, he became inspired to make his own statement against the deadly trajectory of the atomic age. Satish vowed to do a personal pilgrimage to the four nuclear powers, on foot, from India, to Russia, Paris, London, and Washington DC, bringing the wisdom of ‘Ahimsa’ to the leaders who controlled the weapons that could, with a single push of a button, spell the end of life on this sacred earth.
Before he left, Satish stopped in to ask his guru to bless his journey, and offer advice. Vinobah was no stranger to long walks.

“It is a long journey. You’ll need some protection. I want to give you two weapons to protect you,” he said.
“How can non-violent people carry weapons?” Satish asked.
“Non-violent people carry non-violent weapons. The first weapon is that you will remain vegetarian under all circumstances; the second is that you will carry no money, not even a penny.”
“Not even a penny?”
Vinobah explained that money is an obstacle to real contact. “If you have no money, you will be forced to speak to people and ask humbly for hospitality. Secondly, when you are offered hospitality you will say, ‘I am sorry but I eat only vegetables.’ People will ask you why? Then you can tell them about your principles of non-violence and peace.”
Satish and his friend set off on foot, for eighteen months, bringing nothing with them. Nothing, but trust.
~ ~ ~

August, 1999

A month ago, Angela and I drove the just purchased red VW Polo to Devon, in the south of England, where Satish lives in a stone farmhouse. Today he’s the director of Schumacher College, an international hotbed of deep ecology thinkers, as well as the editor of Resurgence magazine. Known as the ‘sage of the deep ecology movement,’ Satish is a vibrant man in his sixties, who recently completed an Indian tradition in which the householder sets off on a pilgrimage, in the years after the children leave home.
“My mother said that if you have not had a pilgrimage by the time you are fifty, it’s time to get going!”
This latest pilgrimage took him to the sacred sites of England: Glastonbury, Canterbury, Lindisfarne, and Iona. Still walking, after all these years.
Satish welcomed us into his home, and began bustling around his old farmhouse, setting an enormous kettle atop an old wood burning stove. As he scooped the tea leaves into the pot he recounted a story from his great walk for peace. When he and Menon, his traveling companion, were passing through Armenia, a woman from a tea factory offered them four packets of tea.
“They are not for you,” she said, “Please give one to our Premier in Moscow, one to the President of France, one to the Prime Minister of England, and one to the President of the United States of America. Tell them that if they get mad in their minds and think of pushing the button to drop nuclear bombs, they should stop for a moment and have a fresh cup of tea from these packets. And remember that the simple people of the world want bread, not bombs, want life not death.”
After walking for eighteen months, from the grave of Mahatma Gandhi to the grave of John F. Kennedy, Satish returned to India. He went to see Vinobah, who was on his eternal walk throughout India. After greeting him warmly, Vinobah said, “You have done well. It is brave and courageous. But ultimately, you need go nowhere to find peace. It is within you. The centre of the earth is here.”

~ ~ ~

I asked Satish if he could think of what I call a ‘Scared Moment,’ a moment of fear, from his life’s journey. He thought for awhile before responding. “The only moment of fear I have known is when you are meditating. With your will and your thought and your concentration you are trying to be one with the world, to see everything as a tapestry, as a web of life. Sometimes you feel that ‘I am thinking. I think therefore I am.’ And this ego scares me, this pride, this separateness, it scares me, because my Jain and Gandhian and Hindu and Indian holistic mind wants to melt with the world and not remain separate. Like a little pool of water separated from the lake, from the river or the ocean. So I want to break the boundaries. But moments come when the boundaries hold on to itself and I’m clinging to my separateness. That clinging to separateness scares me.”

This fear is a final defense mechanism of the ego itself, a resistance to it’s own submergence. In his heart of hearts, beyond that flickering illusion of fear, Satish is fearless.

“I’m not afraid. Fear is not my friend and I don’t travel with fear. Fear is only because we don’t trust the universe mother. You come into this world naked, without any possessions, without any money or house or anything. The moment you take birth, mother’s milk bursts out of her breasts to feed you. Only three percent of creatures upon this earth are humans, ninety-seven percent of them are tigers, snakes, elephants, deer, worms, butterflies and millions of other species. They will be fed, sheltered and everything will be looked after by the principle of the mother earth, and the universal law of the divine presence. And nobody is afraid out of those ninety-seven percent. Only humans are worried, afraid to stiffness. A little bit of fear like salt in the food is alright, but if you put too much salt in the food, food is inedible.

“If you put too much fear in our lives, life is not worth living. So for the future, I have no fear. God, Mother Earth, the Mother Principle will look after everything. So for me trust is the guiding principle, and fear is not the guiding principle. I trust in God and I trust in people and I trust in nature and I trust in universe.”

True Life Confession

me-and-daryl-hannahs-pig

I have a true life confession to make: I woke up this morning with Daryl Hannah’s pig in my bed. Snuggled right up. I have no recollection of the night before. Let me say one thing in my defense- Molly, the pot bellied pig, is a discerning, clean, pig, even if she is well….a bit of a pig. And even if she does have a pot belly.

(Editors note: just learned that technically Molly is not a pot bellied pig – she is a micro pig. Daryl rescued her from an unhappy life of being tossed from foster home to foster home).

I’ve been staying at Daryl’s place for the last couple of days, in the wake of my new feature documentary, Fierce Light’s U.S. premiere, at the Palm Springs international film festival. Daryl is featured in the film as an eco-activist, during the struggle to save South Central Farms, North America’s largest urban communty garden, from the developers bulldozers.

Her  home is the stellar opposite of the usual movie stars pad – it’s in a treed valley, that she helped restore to its natural state, with a stone house, and surrounding smaller buildings, including a yurt, and a teepee. Her living room is outside, with a carpet of living moss. I stayed in the yurt last time, but this time around I’m in the main house, where the pet pig roams.

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According to Daryl, the nomadic way of living is in fact the most sustainable. You leave a light foot print. Your structures do not destroy the earth – you step lightly, camp lightly, and move on, with a minimum of stuff, a minimum impact on the ground. I’ve always had a thing for nomadic structures. Maybe it’s because I’m such a nomad myself. I’ve lived in houseboats, and wall tents, cabins and campers, caves and squats, rooftops and hammocks, and the modern nomads half way houses of artists residencies and film festival hotel rooms.

Daryl’s green oasis is home to a marvelous menagerie – two Alpacas, llama like beasts from South America, an assortment of rescued fowl with names like Andy Warhol and White Cloud, a cat named Flaco and a dog named Toto, and the aforementioned pig, Molly. Recently she snuck half the crowd into a motel room en route to Colorado – well just two dogs, the cat and the pig. But still.

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All the animals have been rescued from scenarios in which they were abandoned or in danger of getting killed. Flaco, worlds most friendly cat, was once a feral cat, and the alpacas were going to be killed, cause they weren’t up to snuff as show animals – one had the right bangs, but the wrong coat, and the other had the right coat but the wrong bangs. Somehow or other, these animals find a second chance at life in Daryls place.

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Daryls love of animals, and her intense love of nature has inspired her long and deep commitment to environmental activism. She has come to the stark realization that the planet is in a state of emergency, and the sanest response to that is to put everything you can, into trying to saving it. Parallel to her acting career, in which she became famous for her roles in such classics as Splash, Bladerunner and  Kill Bill, Daryl has become an outspoken voice in defense of planet earth, as well as a committed activist. Daryl is always appearing at conferences and events, speaking out for sustainability and environmental concerns. She runs a regular on-line Vlog, dhlovelife.com in which you can follow her journey to the far corner of the worlds, searching out stories of sustainability in action.


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Daryl Hannah and John Quigely, arrested at South Central Farms

Daryl has also been involved in direct action, most famously at the encampment in defense of South Central Farms, the largest urban garden in North America. When the call went out to help save the beautiful urban oasis from the developers bulldozer, Daryl found herself tree sitting (despite her fear of heights!) alongside veteran activists John Quigely and Julia Butterfly Hill, well known for her two year tree sit high atop the ancient red wood tree Luna, which she suceeded in saving.

I first met Daryl after she saw Scared Sacred during it’s theatrical release. It’s part of the Fierce Light Trilogy, the story of my five year journey to ground zero’s of the world, in search of stories of transformation. She called me up out of the blue to say how much she loved the film, and offered to help in any way she could.

A year later, she phoned me from South Central Farms, where she had gone to film for dhlovelife.com She ended up not only filming the story, but becoming part of it. She convinced me that this was an important story, one that would fit perfectly into my new project, Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action. Cher Hawrysh, my producer, and I had to make a quick decision – we had yet to raise a dime for the film, but it was clearly a breaking, powerful story. We decided to cover it, and I flew down from Toronto to join in the action to try and save the farm. This story became the back bone for Fierce Light. John Quigely called the struggle to save the farm the most important story of the last decade.

Watch out for Daryl over the next few years – she’s on a mission to throw a wrench into the machinery that’s destroying mother earth, and we need all the life loving warriors for the earth we can muster right now.  Her central message is:  Love Life.   If we start from that place, everything else makes sense.  From a place of love, of what Matthew Fox calls “biophilia”  from  a place of life centeredness, we will find the resources to stand up and be part of the solution.   A force of positivity in contrast to the forces of necrophilia – the death forces of the Industrial Growth Society.    This is the time to stand up for this beautiful world that we are a part of, that is part of us.  We have the tremendous honour to have been born at a time of utter crisis, and have the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and reap all the incredible boons stepping into  your true self offers – finding your purpose, your own calling in this time of crisis.   

Step up, step out, and let your fierce light shine, for the love of life. 

 

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Watch Daryls Vlogs about the action to save South Central Farms

Learn more about Daryl and South Central Farms  on the Fierce Light website.