Where is Paradise?

Climate Crisis As Initiation? | August’s Featured Poet |  Paradise Lost, The Sequel | Farming While Black 

Dear Reader,

Is Paradise located outside or inside you? Maybe there is a special place you have been that feels like Paradise: your ancestral home, or an ancient forest. Or maybe you have touched Paradise in silence, or a lover’s caress.

Imagine a hundred people whose minds are full of hatred and anger coming together. They will create hell on Earth for each other and other beings. How about one thousand people! But when a thousand people come together in love, joy, and inclusiveness, they can create a community that is like a Paradise. Our minds form the basis of our hell or heaven. Of course, real conditions of injustice and suffering exist, but when our hearts and minds are anchored in the true nature of being, we have deeper insight into the sources of injustice, and more energy to transform our conditions.

Here are collected some thoughts and resources to inspire you this week. Where is Paradise for you? Is it beyond this earthly realm? Or is it here and now in the crucible of community and change? Where two or more gather…may we make a small Paradise.

Climate Crisis As Initiation? Defend the Sacred | Join the Live Stream

Are you interested in the “Defend the Sacred” conference at  Tamera Peace Research & Education Center in Portugal , August 16–19, but can’t make it in person? Tune in via livestream and follow the main events online in real time. Tamera be transmitting all 4 of the conference’s keynote panels. Leaders of Indigenous communities, social movements and systemic alternatives will reflect on their experiences of activism and spirituality and share prospects for a global culture of cooperation.

On Saturday, August 17, 9.30–10.45 am BST, a panel will address the question, “Climate Crisis as Initiation?” and feature Tokata Iron Eyes (president of the Standing Rock Youth Council), Marina Nobre (co-founder of Reflorestar Portugal), Alnoor Ladha (executive director of The Rules) & Martin Winiecki (leader of the Institute for Global Peacework). Follow #Defendthesacred.

You can join for free, but do consider donating to help cover the costs of the event. Sign up now: https://tinyurl.com/y2yxj5hd



August’s Featured Poet | Nanette Lashuay

An Unexpected Heaven

I once went nose-to-nose with a snake, a red-specked garter
basking on the path, too content—it seemed—to flee at my approach.

I seized the invitation, bellied-down, and inched over on my elbows
to contemplate the rightness of a snake’s life.

Up close, silicate particles glitter star-size in the dust, many shining
shades of green compose the grass. Skimming shadows make me

quiver. Hot sun above, cool earth below bring enlightenment. I long
to slither, leaving swoops of joy and arcs of S’s for birds to chirp.

From this squat view, human concepts crumble. Meadow dissolves
to forest, a wild tangling of grasses hiding alien-eyed morsels who

flee my darting tongue. Mountains, wrinkling the planet’s flesh,
exist no longer. I call my world endless rock, tilting upward.

What an unexpected heaven this—of waves dashed to particles
of impossible luminosity, of bird song brimming from the primal chaos,

of consciousness free to sidle snakewise into every world we know—
and those we don’t yet.


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Paradise Lost, The Sequel | Nature’s Tipping Point

By Said E. Dawlabani, in Kosmos Quarterly

Paul Gauguin, Le Paradis Perdu, ca.1890

“…The problem we face today is that human existence, so far, has been limited to what we call the ‘values of subsistence’ where we choose to either compete or cooperate, but with little awareness of planetary effects. We are not fully conscious of the fact that we are an inseparable part of Earth’s ecology. We rarely think in terms of the world being a single organism with its own collective mind, or that we are all part of a compassionate, dynamic whole, inseparable from nature. On our journey so far, we’ve identified our problems of existence to be primarily of social, political, or technological in nature. As we exhausted the values of each system, we successfully sought solutions from a higher-level system throughout the Holocene with little regard to problems of existence that lay outside our subsistence worldview, and therein lays humanity’s biggest challenge.”



Farming While Black | Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land

By Leah Penniman, in Kosmos Quarterly

Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality. —Malcolm X

“…I realized that during all those years of seeing images of only white people as the stewards of the land, only white people as organic farmers, only white people in conversations about sustainability, the only consistent story I’d seen or been told about Black people and the land was about slavery and sharecropping, about coercion and brutality and misery and sorrow. And yet here was an entire history, blooming into our present, in which Black people’s expertise and love of the land and one another was evident. When we as Black people are bombarded with messages that our only place of belonging on land is as slaves, performing dangerous and backbreaking menial labor, to learn of our true and noble history as farmers and ecological stewards is deeply healing.”