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Archive for May 17, 2016

Newsletter #37: Five Slants on the Environment

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Conversations.org Monthly Conversations

Interviews with Social Artists, Uncommon Heroes

May 17, 2016

From the Editor

richard.jpgRichard Whittaker

After I’d heard just a few sentences from Manuel Klarmann I sensed a remarkable story. Fortunately, this young Swiss entrepreneur found time during his stay in the Bay Area for an interview. The idea behind Eaternity is not only uplifting, it’s eminently within reach. [more]

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Manual Klarmann and Eaternity

Manual Klarmann and Eaternity“As an 8-year old, when I learned that I was eating food while, on the other half of the planet, people were starving, that completely puzzled me. How could that happen?” It was a critical moment. in Klarmann’s life. He talks about a deceptively simple idea, “What we’re doing with Eaternity is providing a way for our society, on a rational basis, to get one little step closer to sanity.”

Vaidyagrama

VaidyagramaFirst, we bought three acres. It was no use to the local farmer. There were 12 coconut trees about to die, and one mango tree. The farmers thought we were fools. People said, “It’s in the middle of nowhere. Do you think anybody is going to come here for treatment?” Even today, someone who asked this question five years back came to visit and said, “I never ever thought this was the way this space was going to develop.”

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How to Avoid Abusing Power

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DailyGood News That Inspires

May 17, 2016

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How to Avoid Abusing Power

The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace

– Mahatma Gandhi –

How to Avoid Abusing Power

“When we receive power, it feels like a vital force. It surges through the body, propelling the individual forward in pursuit of goals. When an individual feels powerful, he or she experiences higher levels of excitement, inspiration, joy, and euphoria, all of which enable purposeful, goal-directed action. Feeling powerful, the individual becomes sharply attuned to rewards in the environment and quickly grasps what goals define any situation. At the same time, surges of power make him or her less aware of the risks that attend any course of action. This experience of power propels the individual forward in one of two directions: toward the abuse of power and impulsive and unethical actions, or toward benevolent behavior that advances the greater good.” In an adaptation from his new book, Dacher Keltner explains the secret to gaining and keeping power: focus on the good of others. { read more }

Be The Change

Examine your relationship to power, and experiment with implementing some of the insights from the above article in your own life.

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Awakin Weekly: The Value of Solitude

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InnerNet Weekly: Inspirations from ServiceSpace.org
The Value of Solitude
by William Deresiewicz

[Listen to Audio!]

2148.jpgLoneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence. The lost sheep is lonely; the shepherd is not lonely. But the Internet is as powerful a machine for the production of loneliness as television is for the manufacture of boredom. If six hours of television a day creates the aptitude for boredom, the inability to sit still, a hundred text messages a day creates the aptitude for loneliness, the inability to be by yourself. Some degree of boredom and loneliness is to be expected, especially among young people, given the way our human environment has been attenuated. But technology amplifies those tendencies. You could call your schoolmates when I was a teenager, but you couldn’t call them 100 times a day. You could get together with your friends when I was in college, but you couldn’t always get together with them when you wanted to, for the simple reason that you couldn’t always find them. If boredom is the great emotion of the TV generation, loneliness is the great emotion of the Web generation. We lost the ability to be still, our capacity for idleness. They have lost the ability to be alone, their capacity for solitude.

And losing solitude, what have they lost? First, the propensity for introspection, that examination of the self that the Puritans, and the Romantics, and the modernists (and Socrates, for that matter) placed at the center of spiritual life â of wisdom, of conduct. Thoreau called it fishing “in the Walden Pond of [our] own natures,” “bait[ing our] hooks with darkness.” Lost, too, is the related propensity for sustained reading. The Internet brought text back into a televisual world, but it brought it back on terms dictated by that world â that is, by its remapping of our attention spans. Reading now means skipping and skimming; five minutes on the same Web page is considered an eternity. This is not reading as Marilynne Robinson described it: the encounter with a second self in the silence of mental solitude.

But we no longer believe in the solitary mind. If the Romantics had Hume and the modernists had Freud, the current psychological model â and this should come as no surprise â is that of the networked or social mind. Evolutionary psychology tells us that our brains developed to interpret complex social signals. According to David Brooks, that reliable index of the social-scientific zeitgeist, cognitive scientists tell us that “our decision-making is powerfully influenced by social context”; neuroscientists, that we have “permeable minds” that function in part through a process of “deep imitation”; psychologists, that “we are organized by our attachments”; sociologists, that our behavior is affected by “the power of social networks.” The ultimate implication is that there is no mental space that is not social (contemporary social science dovetailing here with postmodern critical theory). One of the most striking things about the way young people relate to one another today is that they no longer seem to believe in the existence of Thoreau’s “darkness.” […]

Today’s young people seem to feel that they can make themselves fully known to one another. They seem to lack a sense of their own depths, and of the value of keeping them hidden.

If they didn’t, they would understand that solitude enables us to secure the integrity of the self as well as to explore it.

About the Author: Excerpted from William Deresiewicz’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education: The End of Solitude.

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The Value of Solitude
What is the importance of solitude in your life? Can you share a personal story of a time when you experienced the value of solitude? How do you balance the need for solitude with the need for community in your life?
david doane wrote: I think there is a lot of truth in Pascal’s statement that “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Alone is a basic condition of being human. We can …
Jagdish P Dave wrote: When I sit still and mindfully explore my inner land- scape of bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings compassionately, I deeply feel connected with me. I just got a call from my cli…
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