Thank you for helping us with our enquiries

•November 9, 2015 • 2 Comments


[An experimental poem after a poem by W.S. Merwin. Took the shots in a mall in Canberra and collaged them.]

Thank you for helping us with our enquiries
(after W.S. Merwin, ‘Some Last Questions’)

what is the head…
a space of communicating trees
a poem that’s lost its way
talking ash

what are the eyes…
almond boats
fallen-in wells
sky holes

what are the feet…
boxes that shuffle
bound clouds
impossible roads

what is a tongue…
a hammer to nail stars with
a black coat falling off the wall
a lithe tortoise

what are hands…
incipient crucifixions

no, what are hands…
ways of being absent

what is silence…
as though I were

who are compatriots…
figments of history
walking ash

Paris Climate Summit as Opportunity for Global Movement Building

•November 6, 2015 • 4 Comments


Paris Climate Summit as Opportunity for Connecting the Dots and Global Movement Building

Some facts first, many of them taken from the latest New Internationalist No. 487 devoted to the Paris Climate Summit (COP 21) in early December. (The excellent introductory article ‘Forget Paris?’ by Jess Worth and Danny Chivers can be read online here:

Useless Talkfests. Twenty years of international government meetings, one whole year of accumulated talking, have achieved nothing in terms of reducing the increasing threat of runaway global warming and total climate chaos. In that time global CO2 emissions have actually risen over 60%.

Usless Pledges. We already know that the voluntary, unenforceable emissions cuts which the most polluting governments are going to ‘pledge’ at COP21 in Paris won’t even keep global temperature rises below 3 degrees, a recipe for complete disaster, much less below the 1.5 degree rise considered relatively safe. (We have already warmed by 0.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels).

Why We Need Blockadia. To stay below 1.5 degrees, the maximum amount of CO2 the global economies can still emit is 240 billion tonnes, 840 billion tonnes to stay below 2 degrees. The amount that could be released by proven coal, oil and gas reserves is 3,270 billion tonnes, another 3,290 billion tonnes from mostly unproven shale gas, shale oil and coalbed methane reserves and 42,000 billion tonnes from unproven coal reserves. Thus, all but a very small fraction of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avoid the increasing likelihood of setting off self-escalating trigger points (e.g. melting permafrost and submarine methane hydrates) and runaway climate chaos.

Corporate False ‘Solutions’. To avoid keeping fossil fuels in the ground and to maintain power and the capitalist growth economy that is the root of the climate crisis, governments and corporations in Paris will be propagating their false ‘solutions’ like offsets and carbon trading, market-based approaches to forests (REDD) and to soil and water, large-scale geo-engineering and techno-fixes, nuclear energy, mega hydro dams, agro-fuels, ‘clean’ coal, GMOs, the ‘waste-to-energy’ industry. The corporate capture of climate programs and public discourse needs to be stopped, as does the so-called ‘Green Economy’ and the further commodification and financialization of nature and nature’s functions.

Climate Debt and Reparations. From a longer historical perspective, the top twelve nations responsible for the most per capita CO2 emissions since the beginning industrial age in 1850 are, in order of historical tonnes of CO2 emissions per person living today: US (1,167), UK (1,106), Germany (1,055), Canada (815), Russia (including Ukraine, 686), EU-28 (656), Australia (655), France (525), Japan (400), South Africa (284), Mexico (124), with China’s historical emissions (111 tonnes) only about 10% of each of the top three nations. India’s per capita emissions in the same time-frame were a mere 31 tonnes, and those of the least developed countries only 5 tonnes. Time for the rich nations to pay some reparations to the poor.

All these facts of course point to the need for system change, not climate change. As the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice (a global alliance of NGOs, says:

Nothing less than a systemic transformation of our societies, our economies, and our world will suffice to solve the climate crisis and close the ever-increasing inequality gap.

After over 20 years of stunted and ineffective action to reduce climate pollution by governments – particularly in wealthy countries that have failed to meet their legal and moral responsibilities – only urgent and transformative and systemic change that can address the root causes of the crisis and deliver what is needed to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the limit beyond which climate impacts will become potentially catastrophic.

The urgency to keep temperatures down is not just about the planet and the environment. It is about people, and our capacity as humanity to secure safe and dignified lives for all.

The same document also attests to an emerging process of connecting the dots between global and local, ecological and social issues:

All our struggles for justice around the world – for equality, food security, economic fairness, human rights, decent work, environmental protection and more – are interconnected and all are tied up in the struggle against runaway climate change.

Based on the growing solidarity between those demanding different aspects of the new world that is possible, we will hold all governments accountable not only to the policy outcome in Paris, but also to national and regional policies and to the actual needs of people and the planet.

All this makes Paris a potential opportunity for building the overarching global climate justice movement and solidarity we need to transform the system from below. Creative direct actions and mass civil disobedience will, as always, be the key to movement building and grassroots pressure in Paris. As John Jordan (from The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, notes and advises:

The dots are finally being joined between the climate catastrophe, the refugee crisis, our value systems and capitalism. Rising faster than the seas, the global climate justice movement could have its coming-out party in Paris. The action will kick off with Global Climate Marches on 28 and 29 November, in cities across the world. (cf.

The Citizen Climate Summit will take place on 5-6 December, in the Paris suburb of Montrueil. A huge gathering of NGOs and activists, including a village of alternatives. (cf.

[You can also] take part in the world’s largest disobedient action adventure game, whether you’re coming to the COP or not. The Climate Games is a brand new form of protest, where play and politics merge. Working in teams, armed with courage, a mobile phone and plans for creative mischief, you can use an online app and map to target corporate baddies, report your action and see where Team Blue (the police) are lurking. There will be awards for particularly funny, effective or media-savvy actions. (cf.

On December 11-12, the movements will have the last word. They will announce ‘red lines’: the minimal necessities for a liveable planet, such as emissions cuts and finance. Inevitably, the summit agreement will cross these lines. As the final plenary begins, thousands will take part in what could be the largest ever act of civil disobedience for climate justice, by surrounding the summit with red lines and occupying the streets. Sign up here:

And this is from an article in the Guardian (A.N. Brussels, ‘Activists promise largest climate civil disobedience ever at Paris summit’, 8 October 2025):

“The redlines idea strikes just the right balance between ‘shut it down’ and ‘do your job’,” the author and campaigner Naomi Klein told the Guardian. “I also think that it is strong enough to grab the narrative, which will be critical if governments try to sell a bad deal as a success.”

On the last day of the summit – 11 or 12 December – thousands of people are expected to converge around the Le Brouget summit site with inflatable red lines, said John Jordan, an artist and prominent activist in the laboratory of insurrectionary imagination.
“The idea is not to lock the delegates in but to have acts of civil disobedience that block the streets and infrastructure, if they cross red lines that are minimal necessities for a liveable planet.”

Protesters can choose the red line they want to join, whether it is equitable climate finance for poorer countries, or meaningful emissions reductions. At the blockades, forums will debate a new wave of actions in 2016 aimed at keeping fossil fuels locked underground.
“It is going to be the largest mass civil disobedience climate justice action that we have ever seen in Europe,” said Prayal Parekh, a campaigner with “We’re sensing a lot of excitement and appetite. It’s going to be colourful.”

Juliette Rousseau, a spokeswoman for Coalition Climat 21 added: “It is the first time in France that we have had such a broad coalition – over 130 members – backing such a diversity of actions and tactics, from demonstration to disobedient actions.”

Heartening indeed.

Deja Vu

•November 3, 2015 • 2 Comments

banksy warming regent's canal london 0713
Isaac Cordal, artwork 'electoral campaign' global_warming 0314

[Wrote this eighteen years ago to subscribers/members of a local sustainability group I initiated in 1989 called Canopy Southern Highlands. The group ended about a year later. The letter displays some uncanny similarities to today. Is there ‘climate change fatigue’ like there is ‘compassion fatigue’ in our current medial mindscapes of digital overwhelm? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, as the French say: the more things change, the more they stay the same. The only alternative: system change, not climate change, and time is running out. Art work by Banksy in London and Isaac Cordal’s ‘Electoral Campaign’.]

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. A Letter to Canopy Subscribers, Christmas 1997

Summer 1997, and welcome to climate chaos, folks.

We wake up to the smell of bushfires. Our days are hazy with their smoke.

On November 27 we had the hottest November day ever recorded in the shire (37 degrees), the second hottest day ever recorded at all in the shire. On September 23 we had the coldest September day recorded in Sydney for fifty years (11 degrees).

1997 is the hottest year on global record. Nine of the previous ten years have been the hottest on record.

Fires, mainly lit by logging companies with close ties to the political ruling classes, destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest in Indonesia from late August to November. The smoke from the fires caused grave public health problems throughout South-East Asia and even spread to Darwin.

The current El Ninjo phenomenon built up at a speed “never seen before” (New Scientist). The previous 1991 El Ninjo was predicted, like the current one, to stay around for nine months. It caused drought in Australia for three years. The current one has led to crop failures, food shortages and starvation among the rural people of the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, West Papua (over 600 dead already) and Ethiopia. The increase in frequency and severity of El Ninjo events has been linked to global warming. Mosquitoes carrying Ross River Fever have now moved to the outskirts of Sydney. This has also been linked to global warming.

The Australian government, tacitly supported by Labor, has succeeded in being allowed an actual increase in greenhouse gas emissions at the recent UN climate conference in Kyoto. Howard’s “victory” will severely rebound on all our health, on farming and tourism incomes, on many vulnerable plant and animal species. Other countries have been prescribed only minimal cuts in emissions on 1990 levels, while UN scientists actually advocated cuts of 60-80% just to stabilize warming levels.

Governments and energy-intensive Big Business they represent (coal, oil, mining, auto, air travel etc.) no longer deny the reality of climate change; they now, and successfully, seek to limit the necessary cuts in emissions. (For the moment the global insurance industry, which sides with Greenpeace on this issue, has been ignored. This industry may increasingly shift its investment trillions away from coal/oil-dependent industries towards renewables and services.)

Canopy Southern Highlands was actually founded in March 1989 as a result of strong local concern about the Greenhouse Effect/global warming and the wish to do something about it by ‘thinking globally, acting locally.’

We have tried to do this in a variety of ways. We have been strongly involved in many local issues directly or indirectly connected with our unsustainable levels of energy consumption, water consumption, ecosystem consumption, waste production. All of these issues are of course inter-connected aspects of our unsustainable consumer capitalism, issues such as:

the Mount Flora mega-quarry proposal, the Sydney mega-dump proposal at Pleasant Farm in Penrose, Council waste and recycling policies, bike paths, Council energy-efficient housing policy, native tree planting near Bowral pool, alternative sewage treatment proposals for the northern villages, public events and workshops on community sustainable futures, river pollution and total catchment management, peat mining at Long Swamp and Wingecarribee Swamp, the Very Fast Train proposal, the public Sydney-Canberra Corridor consultations and discussions, meet-the-candidates local election evenings…

What has changed in the nine years since Canopy was founded is the increasing evidence of the fact that climate change is no longer a mere scientific theory about the future but is already upon us. (In fact, UN scientists declared this to be officially the case two years ago).

Sky Prayer

•October 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment


[The sky here is not separate and ‘up there’, but rather an embodied part of this vast Australian continent. The sky is Original Mind, our essential nature, original Emptiness, Buddhist sunyata. I took the shot at Lake Conjola on the south coast, black basalt rocks like ancient beings in deep meditation.]

Sky Prayer

Sky stainless as steel,
sonorous with sun

elliptically edgeless
just like the One

riveting nail light
skewering skin of the earth

drumming its rhythm
forcing all birth

plants, melanoma,
wideness of soul, air

ocean of origins,
taughtly stretched hole:

disappear me for ever
burn me to light

invert my darkness
deepen my sight

Another Tiny House at Wurrukan

•October 25, 2015 • 9 Comments

Another tiny house for just over $400 at my young friends’ and comrades’ simpler living project at ‘Wurrukan’ in Victoria, Australia. Please check out Wurrukan’s website for its social philosophy of the collective Simpler Way (on Blogroll). We need much more of this.

The Joy of Nothingness

•October 14, 2015 • 2 Comments


[Just wrote this over the last few days. Kind of a summa. All the old and contemporary sages say variations of the same thing. The non-dual cannot be expressed by language which is inherently dual. So maybe this is as far as language can take things. Zen. The language is all paradox or metaphor because it’s the only kind of language that at least points or hints in the right direction, and beyond language and thought. The reality/experience itself knows no paradox, all quite simple, natural. I took the shot of the sky near here in winter: ‘drawing lines on nothing’…I’m hoping a few might understand this.]

The Joy of Nothingness

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (c. 6th century BCE, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)

Only the mind which abides nowhere is the mind of a Buddha. It can also be described as a mind set free, the Bodhi-mind or birthless mind. Another name for this is Voidness of the nature of phenomena.

– Baizhang Huai Hai, Chinese Zen Master (720-814)

For our entire being is founded purely on a process of becoming nothingness.

– Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1328)

Between you and enlightenment
lies only a membrane’s width of thought.
This width, paper-thin,
can be measured in light-years.

There is nothing to measure it with,
no one to measure it, nothing to measure:
the membrane of thought is an illusion
manifested by thought itself.

Thought, language, naming
is the process-of-drawing-a-line,
of identifying, of manifesting differences,
distinctions, delimitations, definitions.

Drawing a line creates two sides,
entities, a division and duality.

Now some process, something
is drawing lines on the water of reality
in order, it feels, to better survive
as something separate
in a world and universe where nothing
is separate. Thought thus
manifests separation,
inside-outside, duality, distance.

Thought manifests space.

Thought, memory’s distinguishing
and separating ‘before’ and ‘after’
also manifests ‘past’ and ‘future’.

Thought manifests time.

Now something is drawing lines
on the water of events
in order, it feels, to create its own
before and after, birth and death,
in a universe where only apparently
separate things are apparently
created and destroyed, but not
the whole pattern and process
of manifesting and withdrawing
which is uncreated, timeless
beyond creation-and-destruction:

the waves begin and end, arise and fall,
yet the water remains, timeless.
We are wave and water, self/no self,

One perfect, complete no-thought
is thus no birth, timeless, eternity.

One perfect, complete no-thought
is thus no-self, no-separation, the infinite.

No birth, no death, no fear.

We as ‘we’ seem dual beings or processes:
dual and non-dual, created and uncreated,
temporal and timeless, individual and infinite,
thought and no-thought, self and no-self,
thing and no-thing, wave and water.

The uncreated we contains the potential
of the created ‘we’, and when certain
conditions are given, continually manifests it.
The non-dual continually manifests
the dual we/non-we.

This manifesting, this creating,
this identifying and ‘othering’,
is a process of wanting-grasping/fearing-rejecting
and remembering-thinking.

This is the same process as the continual
manifesting or ‘creating’ of the universe.
When conditions are ripe, self-universe
arises or manifests together continually.
When other conditions are ripe,
it also withdraws together continually.

The continual manifestation and withdrawal
of self-universe in the process of
results in apparent crystallisations, reifications,
habitual sedimentations we call ‘us’, ‘me’, ‘ego’,
our individual identities as separate ‘selves’
or ‘things’, as ‘ghosts in the machine’ of the body.

At the same time it results in the apparently
more solid reifications we call external things,
and the two, external ‘thing’ and internal ‘I’,
are necessarily separate, in tension,
in opposition and conflict.

At the same time, watching
all these processes we always remain
our uncreated, non-dual (non-)Self.
From the deep of our ocean we watch
the waves birthing and dying
on our busy surface.

Realising this is termed ‘awareness’,
‘meditation’ or ‘enlightenment’:
it is becoming aware of awareness,
of meditating, of already being enlightened.

It is something we are rather than do.
Look at that rock, at how it meditates.
A mountain, an ocean, an old tree meditates.
A cathedral, a cave, a mosque, all meditate.
The whole universe without exception is
in deep meditation and enlightenment.

Meditating, you realise this is the natural
and original state of everything,
including the human body-mind.
There is no self, no doing involved.
Some ancient cultures call this
state of being The Dreaming.

Within meditation there manifests
a field of potential in which arise
thoughts, waves, particles, beings, things.
(Physicists label this state a ‘quantum field’
and separate it off as ‘objective’.)

These apparent entities begin to interact,
form complex chains, webs, patterns.
Self-universe manifests,
a huge, dynamic web of forces and life,
of space and time.

In this self-universe, all beings
are made up of other beings
that are made up of other beings
interacting with other beings.

All beings are thus interdependent
super-organisms, from your own
feeling-thoughts to the physical forces
and chemical elements to bacteria,
plants, humans and the planet, stars,
galaxies and beyond.

Meditation is the non-activity,
the subtle ‘glue’ that holds
all super-organisms together
like gravity, like the spirit
that holds healthy humans
and their groups together,
the water that holds the planet together,
the scent and sticky propolis
that hold together the golden
super-organism of the bee colony.

When thoughts emerge
in the ocean of meditation,
waves or wave-particles (wavicles) arise,
space and time, entities and events.

This process we call The Creation, The Origin,
The Big Bang. The non-dual has split
into the dual, the One into the Many,
the Tao into the Ten Thousand Things.

You do not need a Large Hadron Collider
or space probes to explore the Big Bang.
You simply need to meditate
and watch the process. As within,
so without, inner space is outer space.

The emerging wavicles are born
with internal ‘laws’, ‘principles’,
‘logics’, ‘numbers’ that guide
their self-organisation in space
and evolution in time
into ever greater complexity, diversity,
into ever more extensive clusters
and webs of super-organisms.

The universe, the human body and brain
in all their glory, emerge, the number
of neurons equalling the number of stars.
There is no separation.

And all this manifest glory, this infinite web
of interdependent beings, stars and neurons,
revolves in deep meditation like a wheel
around a central hub of nothingness,
emptiness, the non-dual, nirvana
or enlightenment.

And we are the wheel,
we are the hub.

Introducing Gustav Landauer

•September 16, 2015 • 3 Comments


[Below is a biographical intro note on Gustav Landauer and his possible contemporary relevance, which I have also posted over at my other blog of translations from the German, Passing on the Flame. For anyone interested, I’ll be posting a few translated texts by Landauer at Passing on the Flame in the coming days and weeks.]

Gustav Landauer (7 April 1870 – 2 May 1919), German-Jewish mystic and non-violent anarchist, writer and literary critic, married to poet Hedwig Lachmann, was one of the leading innovative theorists of anarchism and libertarian socialism in Germany at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Most would find it hard to disagree with anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker in his estimation of Landauer as ‘without doubt the most significant mind libertarian socialism in Germany has produced’.

Landauer was an advocate of Proudhonian social anarchism, non-violence, decentralised re-ruralisation and the concrete building of socialism right now in intentional village communities. Influenced by libertarians like Etienne de la Boétie, Proudhon, Stirner, Bakunin, Tolstoy, Kropotkin, Friedländer, mystics and philosophers like Meister Eckhart, Spinoza, Rousseau, Fichte, Nietzsche, Mauthner, and writers like Goethe, Hölderlin, Whitman, Ibsen, his approach to socialism was self-consciously opposed to that of Marxist historical materialism and economic determinism, stressing instead culture and spirit, or ‘Geist’ (spirit, consciousness), the latter understood as the universal human spirit of social cooperation and association. For Landauer this spirit was the defining essence of socialism rather than class struggle or material conditions.

Physically thrown out of the social-democratic Second International together with the other anarchists, and also rejected by other class-struggle anarchists, Landauer remained a lonely figure outside all political groupings. As Rocker noted: “that Landauer had to live and act in Germany, of all places, became his fateful destiny, as it were. The majority of anarchists then in Germany understood him the least, and most of them did not even realise what they possessed in this man. Landauer always remained alone and lonely in that circle which should have been closest to him, understood only by a few and misunderstood, reviled and fanatically fought by many.”

However, his writings did find resonance among many intellectuals and youthful activists of the time, influencing men like Rudolf Rocker, Erich Mühsam, Augustin Souchy, Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch. A close friend of Martin Buber, Landauer thus also directly influenced the latter’s form of religious socialism and thus the later kibbutz movement in Palestine. Buber published some of Landauer’s unpublished works after his death and also devoted a chapter of his Paths in Utopia (1946) to a discussion of his ideas.

Landauer was briefly ‘Commissioner of Enlightenment and Public Instruction’ of the short-lived Bavarian Council Republic of 1918-1919. He is also known for his study of sceptical metaphysics and mysticism (Meister Eckhart), his literary criticism and his translations of Shakespeare, Whitman and Wilde into German. At the age of 49, Landauer was murdered in prison by counter-revolutionary forces sent by governmental Social Democrats to destroy the Munich Council Republic in April-May 1919.

Landauer seems of great contemporary relevance for anyone interested in non-violent civil disobedience and anarchism/libertarian socialism, in the critique of both Marxist orthodoxy and mass parliamentary democracy, in communitarianism and cooperatives, in transitioning to and building another decentralised, free, non-capitalist world right now, in the almost unknown emancipatory tradition of radical mysticism, in the integration of meditation/spirituality and activism, poetry and praxis, of inner and outer freedom.


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